th_Eroses is a contemporary art website dedicated to film photography, cinema, poetry, internet performance, behavioral choreography, and art critical theory.

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WORKING IN THE MOVIES

Justin picks up Laurel to go to Aram’s House
“He’s like a gay Audrey Hepburn,” explains Justin with utter seriousness. “He used to tour with Nick Cave playing theremin, and now he like… I’m not sure what he does. He is very artful and has an extraordinary eye for aesthetics.”
Laurel nods and sits quietly in the passenger’s seat.
“I really liked the script,” she says earnestly.
They pull up to an unassuming, three-story apartment complex with a stuccoed exterior in Beverlywood.

Aram’s apartment was deep, crimson red, and dripping with jewels. They stand quietly in the main room. The environment is surreal, and the curtains are thick velvet. The apartment is the wholehearted and exquisitely crafted expression of Aram’s psychosexual persona. It is beyond reproach, for its sincerity, and immaculate execution. The space is private, it is beautiful, and if you don’t love, it you can get out.

Laurel stands a little straighter, and is glad that she’s decked in cateyes and costume sapphire earrings.

Justin has an easy way to him that makes people feel comfortable. He expresses great respect for his surroundings, and he can speak clearly and accurately to anyone, so Laurel is sure that he’ll direct the conversation with ease.

This is Laurel’s first interview for a feature film that was crafted with some intelligence and creativity, so she wants the job- and she’s fascinated with Aram before she’s even met him.

Soon, Aram emerges from behind a velvet curtain, cooing softly as he pads towards us like a leopard, in black smoking pants a fitted black turtleneck. He occupies space like a geisha. His eyes are downcast and painted. He extracts a porcelain tea-set from behind the record player.

My grandmother’s- the china. Cardamom tea? It’s from Armenia.
Please.


Laurel nods silently.
Justin speaks quickly.

Thanks for meeting us tonight Aram! I just wanted you to meet Laurel and see if we can get her on board in the department.

Laurel nods and smiles.

Aram hands her an extraordinarily beautiful cup of Persian tea.

Hello darling. Tell me about you.

I’m an artist. I’ve done movies before. Art department. I love the script. I’m impressed with Lucas’ writing.

Yes.

Did you read the updated script I sent Aram? asks Justin. We need your annotations on page 35-50 by tomorrow morning, okay?

Yes, yes— I did see that.

Okay great! So is there anything you need to ask Laurel before we bring her on?


Aram looks her up and down.

Well child, he says languidly. You seem lovely. Do you like the tea?
Yes, thank you.


All right Aram. So, uh, well then. Anything you need from me? We’re having a meeting with Lucas and the New York guys next Tuesday, early, Nick’s gonna pick you up.

Lovely, says Aram.

Justin calls Laurel the next morning.

You’re on, kid, I’ll pick you up Tuesday.
Wow. Awesome Justin. I’m so stoked. Thank you.


<><><>

Laurel is spacing out. She is wearing a $4 bracelet that’s very large and sculptural. It’s a gold cheetah with sapphire eyes wrapped around her forearm. She drags her fingers through her hair. Traci Lords and AnnaLynne McCord are playing out a knock-down-drag-out mother-daughter fight on the other side of the camera, and Laurel is supposed to be watching the curtains behind them. The curtains are scotch-taped together at the seams, and every few takes, Laurel needs to jump over to the other side of the camera and fix the tape. In the meantime, she’s watching the monitor with Lucas and the A.D. She’s getting chatted up by a grip right now, which is making it hard to focus. He’s a cutish boy- 29 but he looks 24, and very beard-y and muscular.

Shh, she gestures.

CUT.

The grip runs back over to move a box of cables somewhere, and Laurel hitches up her skirt, jumps over a few taped-down cables, and starts fussing with the curtains on set.

For about 45 seconds, there is chaos, as every department rushes around to reset for another take. Traci Lords shoots someone a death glare about her salad being late, and AnnaLynne throws a hilarious hand gesture at Lucas. Lucas pulls her over for some extra coaching.

What’s the saddest fucking that’s ever happened to you, he says. I want you to pull up that moment, and I want you to fucking live there. Okay? You are ugly. No-one loves you. Your mom thinks you’re a freak, and she’s right. Just fucking remember that okay? Now I want to see you C R Y.

Lucas pushes her back into the living room by the small of her back, and Laurel scurries back over to the monitor with Lucas and the AD.

 

Lucas was charismatic and had a way of directing life on set such that everyone became emotionally involved with the success of the production. He was personally charismatic, with a boyish smile and wild, impassioned eyes. He exclusively wore basketball shorts on set, and had a grizzly stubble that lasted for the duration of the production. He had made a point of bringing his close friends from film school in New York onto the production, which was awesome because most of the higher-up creatives on set were working from a long-standing base of friendship and collaboration, and they had a shared language and jokes that gave life on set a chill, friendly vibe. Lucas' friends' younger siblings got PA-ships. He cared about his people. He lived simply, and would invite Laurel, Jesse, and Frank out to his house for parties to hang out with his friends from New York. Everybody liked Lucas, and everybody wanted his movie to succeed.

 

The start filming the same fight again, and Laurel spaces out again, meditating on the surreal quality of her surroundings, the constructedness of the reality she's been living in these last few months, the teleological function of C I N E M A. What’s real art, she thinks. I know this is pop culture, but like, what is art. She starts fiddling with a pack of index cards from one of the sound boxes, drawing braided lines with a highlighter and a ballpoint pen. She starts scrawling couplets, and in a few minutes ends up with a poem.

There was another total-space-cadet on set, a guy they all called Harpo. He had bug-eyes and leaned too far in to speak to you, and he would listen to anything Laurel said in a state of silent rapture. She felt that he overpraised her, which was exhausting, but she also thought he would like the poem, so she tucked it into his pocket.

Conception

before conception you’re a flickering bulb, a seed,
a ticker tape of thoughts to read
clothe your thoughts in flesh and wrap it in skin
pores open a million micro-mouths
and lick the sticky sunshine in

kaleidoscope landscapes fall into focus
a new soprano joins nature’s chorus
symphonic breaths start to synchronize
harmonize the vision conceived in holy eyes

this rain of beauty collects in our hands
elusive, lustrous, golden strands
materials so rich and raw
all we know to do is weave it into straw

but for all its lack of metallic gleam
our weavings still hold that golden sheen
the earthy hue that stand fraternal
to the golden tapestry of the eternal.

 
, then walked outside to get some blueberries at kraft.

Her department had virtually zero budget left, because Lucas decided to direct as much money as he could toward hiring bigger-name stars to cameo, so Laurel didn’t have a lot to work with, other than a few scrappy textiles. Mostly she hung out, made mixtapes for people, and wore all of the boy’s sweaters.

Their entire department consisted of:

Frank- a heavy-set gay man with a cheerful demeanor and mellow, friendly way.

Jesse- a handsome, charming guy in his mid-30's, who had some acting background, and loved music.

Laurel,

and Aram.


Aram’s anxiety attacks, Listening to Judy Garland
Laurel picked up Aram in the early morning, and tuned into KJAZZ. Judy Garland was belting out a hearty round of Zing! goes the strings of my heart, and the morning was still dark enough to be night.

Hello darling.
Hi Aram.


They drive through the silent landscape. Laurel is curious about Aram and sensitive to his energy. She tries to make the environment as pleasant as possible for him, because she knows he is fussy. Today, like every day, his black hair is sliced back into a flawless pompadour, and he wears a black cashmere turtleneck with slim-cut pants, black wool socks, and leather oxfords.

Coffee, darling. I need coffee.
Okay.


They pull into an ARCO.

Decaf though, he explains, as they press open the glass door and blink in the harsh fluorescent light of the convenience store. My analyst says I need decaf. Because I’m crazy.

Okay, no problem. They have decaf. I’ll take regular.

They procure the coffees and hit the road. They arrive at set, and Laurel hoists a box full of library books and fake plants out of the back of the convertible. She balances them on her hipbone to shuffle in and set up for the day. Aram makes a beeline for the upstairs couch.

My anxiety’s coming on, he says, stroking his cheeks absentmindedly and not making eye contact with anyone. I have to lie down. Don’t let anyone speak to me.

Okay Aram. Let me know if you need anything.

Aram continued to detach from life on set. Eventually he was spending all day alone, locked in an upstairs bedroom, presumably riding waves of anxiety and waiting for them to dissipate. It was clear to Laurel that he wasn’t cut out for this job, but production management had a less understanding attitude toward his diva behavior, and eventually Aram left the production entirely, leaving Frank, Laurel, and Jesse as the only 3 art department members still standing.

After Laurel finished working on the movie, she started making paintings in the garage of a semi-abandoned house on Menlo Ave near school. The building was owned by Leo, who also owned the nightclub across the alley. Leo’s tenants were on some type of discount drinks program at Leo’s nightclub, but USC students never went, because it was a Mexicano club that was frequented by a kind of chollo-cholla crowd. If you showed up in yacht shorts and a butter-yellow polo, you would stick out like a sore thumb, and you weren’t likely to hear an Aviici track on this side of Vermont Ave. To pay your rent at Leo’s, you’d walk over to the nightclub with some Benjamins and hand them over.

The Fortaleeza
A four story-compound that was a cross between a castle and a barn, “The Fort” was Laurel’s first solo place that she had the rights to make a world out of. Her rights were a bit borderline, considering she paid one month’s rent and stayed for the summer, but she took them nonetheless. Perched on the balcony with her summer supper- a torn hunk of bread, for lack of a knife to cut with, and red wine out of a mason jar, Laurel felt like she owned the place. From this vantage point on the landing, she could take a break from painting in her garage “studio” and scrutinize the paintings from the distance of two stories up. The backyard was usually blanketed in glass shards, trash, and broken beer bottles that she would tiptoe past with her paintbrushes and stove-pan full of black tea on her way to the garage to paint. She would stay until the sun went down, working on canvases perched against an abandoned ping pong table, jamming Os Mutantes, Blondie, and Beck in the garage. Sometimes she would head back out after sunset, turn on a lamp, and work some more. She found a white cat out by the front gutter one day, named him Casper, and let him stay. The house was a disaster- a total mess. It had clearly been disrespected by generations of tenants, but she tried to make it as nice as possible.  Her second-story room looked like a poor woman’s palace, covered in silk scraps, drawings, and plastic jewels, although she spent little time in there unless she was watching old movies in bed. One time Jesse came over while Laurel was painting a hummingbird on the floor, and he pointed out that it was “the type of place you get Hepatitis C.” After that, Laurel wore shoes.

bean toast
One day, Mackenzie, Wendell, and Alex came over to visit for the afternoon. They had stayed in town for the summer too, because Mackenzie’s family lived in the valley, and Wendell’s lived in Palos Verdes, and Alex’s family lived in Studio City. Laurel invited them up for tea and showed them her garage studio. It was about 4:0 in the afternoon, but she thought it would be nice to offer them a meal. She only had wheat bread and toast, and a can of refried beans, so she made “bean toast” and black tea, and they all had a linner-dunch of bean toast.

Nothing wrong with a meal at 4:30 in the afternoon, laughed Wendell. Whenever he spoke, his eyes sparkled brightly and he flung his long brown hair around like a lion.
Sounds just a-boot fine to me, said Mackenzie, in her ‘Canadian’ accent.

Both Wendell and Mackenzie had nervous, chattery mannerisms, and were eager to please. Alex and Laurel were both a little more straightforward, often quiet until there was an opportunity to lay down a joke or a little quip.

They chatted for a bit and everyone parted ways. That was actually the most time the group had spent time together that summer, but they were planning to move into a house together in the fall.

earthquake
One night Laurel and Casper spent on the floor of the room, after she gave back the furniture she had been borrowing from Taylor. She was sleeping on a blanket on the floor of the empty house in the empty room. That night she had turned on a Robyn CD and danced in front of the mirror until she was exhausted. She crawled under the blanket and cuddled Casper until she fell asleep. She woke up about 3 hours later, around 2am, to an earthquake shaking the old firetrap mansion. It was her first real California earthquake. She grabbed the cat and ran barefoot into the street, which was also abandoned and still shaking. She was sure that the tremor was the foreshock to THE quake that was going to separate Los Angeles from the continental U.S.A. She stood blinking in the cool night air for a few minutes, looked around, then decided it must be safe if everyone else was still indoors.

recoup
Another day, Frank and Jesse came over for a post-movie recap / down-briefing and roundtable. Frank showed up in yacht shorts and a black t-shirt, with a case of Modelo. Jesse showed up in a sleeveless Cavs jersey and denim cutoffs, with a small file-folder of departmental expense reports. Laurel is in daisy dukes and a ballet-pink smock. She pushes her hair in a gypsy scarf and lays out a plate with a sliced zucchini and hummus.

Thanks for the snack, said Jesse, swooping a zucchini slice. Jesse has a quiet way, and never fully explains what’s on his mind, preferring to speak around things.

We need to divy up titles and money. Frank’s eyes sparkle when he speaks, but not with a radiant warmth, so much as the sparkle of someone who’s aware of the implications of what he says, and who’s always wishing to push boundaries just a little. His eyes have a slightly naughty sparkle. He is not shy about speaking his mind.

The three of them go through a stack of papers. Jesse has the most contact with production management, so he explains the remaining paperwork to them. Jesse also needs the money the most. Jesse has shot some commercials, and has a certain star quality to him, but he’s not an actor. He doesn’t have a film career. Frank has some experience in the industry, and isn’t desperately in need of money. Laurel has no money but doesn’t really care, because she’s 19, and she’s squatting in a fine home right now, where she has time on her hands and art supplies to make work. In the end, Jesse got money, Laurel got a title, and and Frank got both. Set Decorator seemed like an apt title for her, because her main contribution to the film was keeping the vibes on set a little weirder, artier, and more fancy- and introducing a little feminine energy into the otherwise dude-heavy production.

Frank cracks open a Modelo.

It’s the 4th of July, he says, jolly.
True that, says Laurel.  
What’s poppin’ around here? asks Jesse.
I don’t know, says Laurel. We could watch the fireworks.

They kick back on the second-story landing and listen to Blondie while the sun sinks deeper toward the horizon. Jesse is rough, masculine, and handsome. Laurel’s liked him for a while, and they have kind of a thing. They did a duet of Johnny Cash and June Carter’s I Walk the Line together at the cast party. Jesse laid down the Johnny Cash part with style and finesse, but Laurel was tipsy and twirling around like a ditzy, dizzy ballerina, so ultimately their performance was pretty sloppy. Jesse’s been her best friend on set, and she has great respect for him. His self-assurance and strong moral compass have made him her confidante, mentor, and trusted friend for the last few months. Sometimes she recognizes a bit of wildness and fragility to him- but his manners and his mannerisms mask that. The hidden aspects of his personality give him an air of mystery, of someone always slightly restrained, well-behaved.

They walk over to an empty field by the USC football stadium and the rose garden, where they lean back to watch the fireworks.

whooooshh…. skwaaaaAAA… (sizzles). a technicolor flume rises, then falls in shards from the sky to the ground.

like falling stars.

Laurel rests her head in the crook of Frank’s arm and is lulled into a meditative space, as the flumes rocket across the sky and paint the sky with a thousand radiant stars.

like watching the life-cycle of a thousand galaxies…

skkrrrrrr. chikka chikka chikka skwaaaaAAAAA (sizzles) (sizzles) (sizzles)…

play out in the span of a few minutes…

humankind flings itself toward the heavens to sparkle and fall- gleeful. decadent. futile.

how lovely.

Jesse and Laurel go to Fred 62, watch Russian Puppet Film, Make Out
Jesse and Laurel eventually go to Fred 62, watch a Russian Puppet Film, and Make Out, undoubtedly to the delight of anyone who had been watching them gradually fall for each other over the course of the last few months. After that, their lives take different directions.

Laurel Meets Reed
Laurel went out of town one weekend, then came back to the house to find the front door ripped off its hinges. She stepped over the threshold to see skulls and graffiti painted all over the house, *even more* broken glass everywhere, and walls and windows smashed into pieces throughout the house. It was completely abandoned and destroyed, and Laurel was afraid to go inside. She assumed there could be dangerous people in there, homeless people on drugs, who knows.

When Laurel finally went inside and started making her way upstairs to her room, she heard the sound of people rummaging around in the attic. She opened the door and saw a group of young guys, actively in the process of stealing a couch. She asked who they were. They said they were USC students. One of them was friendly, with floppy brown hair and a nice smile. Laurel was pissed off about her house being destroyed, and she asked them, “where am I going to stay?” The boy said, I live down the street. You can stay with us. She followed them down the street, where they showed her a second-story room with a bed. Laurel wasn’t sure that they were USC students, but they seemed “pretty normal.” She asked if she could have her own room with a lock, and if she could keep her cat, and they said yes.

thin skinned leaf in the wind
catch me for a moment,
take me wherever you are going.


One day soon after that, Laurel was running down the stairs of their house in a pink silk dress and ballet slippers, and she fell on her butt and slid all the way down the stairs. She had bruised her tailbone pretty bad, and couldn’t really walk. She had been pretty much ice cold with everyone at the house so far, because she didn’t really know them, but that day the nice boy with the brown hair (Reed) got her an ice-pack for her butt and offered her some ice cream. She declined the ice cream but sat on the ice-pack. Reed interestingly had no front teeth, because he had knocked them out skateboarding. Incapacitated, and stuck at home while her tailbone healed, she actually started talking to Reed and they developed kind of a thing.

intimacy- strangeness becoming unstrange

I watched you carefully take out drenched-color sun photos of your friends from years ago, the ones you had other car rides and jokes and bad ideas and beers and summers with. I flicked through and they all seemed pretty and pale and gentle the same way you are. Something about all the orange-heavy overexposed photographs seemed washed-out and golden felt like all the sliver-laughs and quiet places you brought me into. We lay on the low-slung mattress of the attic space watching the shadow-version of the lace curtains as they slowly danced their way across the attic floor, and played out our own shadow-dances with our hands on the far wall. Scraps and strings and ribbons of who we are and love and make and live are carefully woven. We’re little birds gathering little scraps and strings and ribbons of who are and love and make and live in careful nest-worlds.

The Self-Proclaimed Boddhisatva Genius Boy with the Harem Pants and the Naan Trick
    Bobby had just come back from India, and he was brimming with self-importance and dip-dyed textiles. For today’s living-room-lecture, he wore tie-dyed harem pants that narrowed at the ankle, and an unbleached linen tunic.
    “I mean honestly, if you haven’t been there- you just can’t understand,” he says, his hands folded together in some kind of eastern Asiatic gesture of reverence or solemnity or Ultra Enlightenment.
    “Here. Let me teach you this trick I learned in India. It’s very simple- genius really,” he explains, to the cluster of enthusiastic females that gather at his shirt sleeves.
    “They only use two ingredients- flour and water *and they make bread*.”
    “Uhm, okay,” Laurel comments, “I don’t see how this is any more magical than the Tortilla Machine down at Rosita’s Taco Emporium…” but her wry analysis of the situation is lost on the gaggle of fangirls.

     "Wowww," coos Maria. "That is so clever."
    Bobby tosses his first flour-ball into the skillet with panache, and the crowd is delighted.
    Laurel retreats to her room to watch movies but Bobby makes a point of seeking her out later to show her his prayer flags, his fasting garment, and his tie-dyed curtains. She cedes that they are aesthetically lovely, that meditation seems great, and striving to master it, a valid and virtuous goal.
    Ultimately, they get along fine, but she does think it seems a little colonialistic and cliched to send American college kids over to India to get all Zenned-out a la Steve Jobs, then come back to America to invent Apple computers that are built in east Asian sweat shops, or impress everyone with their naan skills, or whatever- despite the fact that Laurel herself is basically a walking cliche, or at least living in a contemporary, west coast remake of Breakfast at Tiffany's. Choose your own narrative.

The summer concludes, and Laurel still hasn’t made out with Reed. Now she moves in to the house down the street with the group: Wendell, Mackenzie, Eve, Alex, Matt, and another guy that Laurel didn’t know as well- Norman, a skinny video editor, who had a weird, penetrating gaze, and lived on packages of powdered donuts and Swedish fish.

Moving In Together
    Laurel eats blueberries from a champagne flute in her daisy dukes while Wendell’s parents unpack Ikea boxes. Mackenzie, Eve, and the boy’s parents had taken on a significant amount of responsibility in stocking with the house with as much and more than the group could possibly need. They had a full set of every kind of cooking pan and tupperware, with champagne glasses to boot.
    Laurel has one bag with her clothing, and once the bag is indoors, she considers the place home. She stashed her bottle of Maker’s Mark in the bottom drawer of her dresser. She rarely drank these days, but occasionally she would slip a little Maker’s before she went out for the night. She was sharing a small room with two other girls, Mackenzie and Eve. They were in a bunk bed, and she was sleeping on a couch by the front door. She had found the couch on the street, and dragged in the front door of the house to sleep on. For the privilege of sleeping on the couch, she was now forking over $650 / month. Sometimes she would come home and there would be people drunk on her couch, drunk in the living room, or puking-drunk in the backyard.


    When you walk into my room, you first see orange walls, the beds of two roommates, and the old golden-orange velvet couch that I sleep on. On either end of the couch is a carousel pony cut from sheet metal, with a ring of metal flowers around it’s neck. Silk scarves are stored on the horse’s neck, giving the ponies the appearance of being both Very Fancy and Very Cold. On the couch are a large, meticulously-folded stack of textiles, showing their fringe around the edges. They range from striped silks to Mexican wovens to shaggy faux fur- mementos of film projects gone-by, they now serve as blanketing. A pile of olive green pillows perches on the turquoise Mexican-print blanket.
    Behind the couch, a large hummingbird drawing is haphazardly painters’-taped to the wall over months’ worth of out-of-date to-do-lists. Stacked around and above the couch are books and records, ranging from Joan Baez sheet music for piano, to a collection of Vonnegut novels, to EE Cummings poetry. Beneath the bird on the rough, dark wood floor are 7-8 large canvases and a metal cookie-box full of paints, and a mason jar full of muddy-colored paint water and brushes.
    As I look around, I can see my reflection in the full-length mirror across the room. At my feet are a stack of old art and coffee table books of Chagall and Jorg Muller, recently saved from a library’s discard pile. Around the perimeter of the room, a shelf lines the top of the walls, leaving a roughly 1’ space to store things near the ceiling. This space makes a ring of books, high heels, paper flowers, and all the bric-a-brac that can be accumulated by 3 people in 20 years of living and collecting all things florid and ornamental. The room is crowded and well-used but full of interesting textures and colors.


Hey, we’re all going to IKEA to get house supplies, are you going to come? asks Eve.
Nah, says Laurel, as she leans back on the couch, eating blueberries out of a champagne flute.
Uhm, Okay, says Eve, visibily irritated with Laurel’s nonchalance. Why?
I hate IKEA. Besides, we need to be more environmentally conscious. We should use rags instead of paper towels, and we already have more dishes than we need.

 

After her last living situation, she feels that their new home is excessively decadent and overpriced. She also feels that Mackenzie and Eve's families are spending way too much money on home supplies.


Okay, whatever, says Eve, giving Laurel a lengthy *look*. She leaves the house with her mother.

Laurel takes Uzo shots, sits on Reed's lap
Some of Laurel’s things were still living at Reed’s house, and she would still go over there to do my laundry sometimes, but it started to irritate for his roommates after a while so she knocked it off. Reed and all his musician friends came over to Laurel’s new house one night for a party, and brought Uzo. Reed’s best friend was a beefy Italian who shared Reed’s interest in skateboarding and old-school punk music. The Italian was kind of anti-social, and would skateboard on a half-pipe that he'd built into the garage all day, or go into the back shed and record surreal solo recordings on a pink leopard-print sitar that he'd bought on Craigslist. One of Laurel’s classmates was also at the party, a boy named Peter. Peter was a rock-climber with curly hair and a manic, affected dreaminess. Tonight he kept trying to start conversations with her about things like string theory or Nature or Zen, and when she didn’t go for it, he became visibly angry with her for not liking him. She tried to ignore him as much as possible. Eventually everyone else was laughing and talking and taking Uzo shots with Reed and the Italian, and finally Laurel ended up sitting in Reed’s lap at the kitchen table. The two started kissing a little, and kazam, before you knew it they were inseparable. Laurel liked his vibe; he seemed friendly and thoughtful.

After that, they spent pretty much every minute together. Reed was sensitive to the world around him.

Sometimes he would see something like a little funny-shaped stone, or see a comical little vignette between two leaves and a twig, and pause, then point it out to Laurel and snap a photograph. Laurel loved his photographs. She checked out a book for him once from the library called “Yesterday’s Sandwich.” The photos were mellow-colored and very gentle- a subtle, mild beauty that reminded her of Reeds’ easy-going way. Sometimes he would write notes to her on the back of his photographs, and leave them at her house, or tucked into her books.

Goldschlager
Wendell sits in his bedroom, hunched over his Macbook. At the request of his parents, a sound engineer and PTA president who have a summer home in the Hamptons, he’s making a budget spreadsheet in Excel. He sips a root beer shirtless. Wendell is handsome, with long hair and a muscular chest with six-pack abs. He dresses nicely, in slim-cut jeans that cling to the shape of his hips and thighs, and he is eager to be likeable and impress people.

    It’s September 30th, and Wendell has $60 extra dollars for the month that he hasn’t spent. So, he decides to buy a bottle of Goldschläger cinnamon schnapps and diet coke.

 

Drink Goldschläger and you’ll be pissing gold, he explains, laughing. It’s vodka, but with gold flecks in it.

 

He makes the “I can believe this is real” gesture, moving his hands up and down as if he had a heavy boulder in each one.

    Laurel arrives home from work, late. There is an ambulance outside the house and vomit on the sidewalk. She walks to the backyard to pick up a CD that she’d left out there. There is more vomit on the pavers, and shards of glass and spitting tobacco in the grass. As she picks her way through it, she feels something moist on her foot; she looks down to see it covered in slimy vomit. The guys had gotten so roaringly drunk on Goldschlager that they had to get their stomachs pumped.

    Laurel waits patiently for the drunk girls to get off of her couch. She’s doing the hand-acting for a re-shoot for the movie, and she needs to be on set this morning from 4:30am to 8. Right now it's 2:30 am. Please guys, I've got to get some sleep here. That couch is my bed. Out. Finally, the girls, giggling, retrieve their shoes and move to the porch. Two hours later, Laurel peels herself off the couch and picks her way through the living room, over slimy pad-thai noodles crusted on the floor to get to set.

The Servants
    Soon the group hired a maid-service for the house- two hispanic women and their daughter who would come over to clean up the rotting pad thai, broken glass shards, and unwashed dishes that were always lying around. Laurel sees them cleaning the living room one day.
    Hola, como estas, she says, scraping old food and a bowl full of zig-zags into a small wastebasket. Perdónanos por este.. uhm, horrific mess.

In the backyard, an orange tree droops over the hot tub, its fruits falling on the ground to rot.


Menlo Avenue
Laurel moved out. She hated it there.

    “I remember stepping barefoot in dip-spit on my own back porch one night when there was an ambulance outside, and my room was filled with drunk strangers at 4am,” she sends via Facebook chat to Emily.

    Instead, Laurel moved into a house out in El Sereno with another art student, where they had pomegranate trees in the backyard, which they harvested. She also met another really cool feminist artist there who ran the art studio at Contemporary Duplicates, and she introduced her to Richard Duardo, who started inviting Laurel over to the studio and hang out. Richard was getting older, and she seemed to breathe life into him. He appreciated her love of art, and her combination of shyness and charisma, and she appreciated his knowledge and respected him greatly as an artist and friend. They became very intrigued by each other, and were soon inseparable companions.