Last Thursday I attended the Downtown Los Angeles Artwalk. Every month the galleries in the neighborhood open their doors late at night for pedestrians to come in and enjoy the new art exhibits. The streets and sidewalks are packed with an eclectic mix of people. There are punk rockers, suites, bums, cops, hot chics, old chics, chics that are really dudes. There’s live music and tiny food vendors selling things like home made cookies with names such as ‘Your Mother’. So one might try a sample and then look to their friend and say, ” Mmmmm your mother is goood!”
Danielle, an old friend from high school, had invited me earlier that week. I took a 20 minute subway ride to downtown and walked to the corner of 6th and Spring where we had agreed to meet. I stood on the corner of a 4-way intersection and moved my head around like an owl anxiously anticipating the direction she’d be coming from. When I finally spotted her she was about a block away and with a girl I didn’t recognize. I was introduced to her friend Juanita. We greeted each other and then began our walk of art.
Roaming the sidewalks for a while we finally entered a nearby gallery. The work inside was much like everything I witnessed the rest of the night. Since the art is subjective I can’t really give an opinion, but if I was to give an opinion I would say it sucked. Masked behind the excuse of “fine art” there was a lot of weird video installations, sculptures crafted out of household objects, giant canvas’s painted with ugly textures that might be mistaken for a bad stucco job by a carpenter. One artist had a series of pieces in which he juxtaposed pornographic images with old cartoon cells. For example, there would be a picture with Foghorn Leghorn (the old Warner Brothers rooster) smoking his cigar, and a picture of a penis would replace the cigar. He had about 40 of these for sale, ranging in price from 25 to 50 dollars.
Eventually we ended up in a bar. It smelled like piss but it served tall cans of Pabst Blue Ribbon so I thought it was cool. After a few drinks I looked at my phone and strategically said out loud ” gee I really hate that I have to take the subway back tonight.” Juanita quickly offered more beers and a couch to sleep on in her apartment just blocks away. I raised my eyebrows and shook my head up and down in approval at this idea. “Ok” I casually replied.
We then walked back to her spacious studio apartment. It had a squeaky clean hardwood floor, which I tested out with a backspin. Almost 4 rotations, must have been recently waxed I thought. Like many nights I have, there was MJ playing on the ipod. This led to me teaching the two girls every step of the dance moves in the beat it video, including the knife fight. Then we sat around talking for a bit and eventually went to bed. I remember looking at my cell phone and seeing it was just after midnight. It was two very drunk girls and I in an apartment late at night and I, of course, slept on the couch by myself. Juanita gave me a blanket, turned off the lights and I soon fell asleep.
Hours later I woke up. All the lights were on and I was lying on my back on a hardwood floor. I sat up and looked around. There was absolutely nothing there. I was in a completely vacant apartment. I got up and did a 360 take on where I was, maintaining a defensive basketball stance. No couch, no lamps, no tables, no dishes, nothing. There was a big screen door with a view of the back screen doors to other apartments in the building. It was the dead of night and the lights were off in all of them. Except for the unit directly across from me. It was dimly lit with a few soft lights coming from various places in the ceiling. I could clearly make out everything in it. There was a stripper pole, a giant vintage looking camera, and a bunch of clothed mannikins propped in bizarre positions. One was next to the stripper pole, one was casually sitting on a chair with its legs crossed, one was standing against the wall with its arms folded. None of this shit looked familiar!
For a split second I thought about going back to sleep. Maybe if I just lay down and close my eyes, I will be back on Juanita’s couch when I open them. Instead I pulled out my phone and started frantically dialing numbers. Nick, Dustin, Zach, James, nobody was picking up. Finally my friend Katie answered. I explained to her my predicament and she then convinced me I had been roofied and raped. In the middle of explaining to her the weird, freaky mannikin shit I was looking at, my phone made a beeping noise. I recognized the sound, it was telling me the battery is almost dead. “I’ll call you back” I abruptly ended the conversation.
I walked out the front door and went down the elevator. I then began to wander the streets of downtown Los Angeles trying to look for anything familiar from last night. Finally I called Danielle but got no answer. I knew the address was 215 6th street, but I was surrounded by very tall buildings that all looked alike and had no numbers. I asked the first guy I saw that wasn’t a bum where 215 6th street was.
“Well you oooonnn 6th street my brotha, So you gotta be close!”
This was no help. I mumbled under my breath “thanks brotha” and continued walking. I thought to myself, the subways probably open around 6 or 7, it’s 4 right now. I can walk around for a couple hours. Maybe find some cardboard and take a little nap. Then miraculously Danielle called me back. Still thinking I was in the apartment, she was very confused when I explained my situation. She told me to meet her on the corner of 6th and Spring, the place we had met just 10 hours before. When I got there both girls and a security guard were waving for me to come inside.
When you walk into Juanita’s apartment you will see a screen door in the back. If you step outside this screen door you will be on a balcony that connects you to all the other apartments on that floor. It makes a big rectangle and will eventually take you back to where you started if you keep walking on it. The center of the building is hollow and if you look down you can see all the floors below you. Think of it like the inside of a mall, but instead of shops it’s screen doors to other apartments.
Juanita, using her innate detective skills resolved that I must have gone out her back screen door, went around the balcony and somehow found an unlocked vacant apartment to walk into. All in my sleep mind you, I have absolutely no memory of any of this. I then turned on all the lights and lay down on the kitchen floor. When we first went back to Juanita’s it was late at night and very dark. She had curtains over her screen door that kept you from seeing outside. When I finally saw what the back balcony of her building looked like after waking up in the vacant apartment, I didn’t recognize it. I thought I had to be in a different building.
I walked it again, this time conscious, and showed the girls where I was when I woke up. I showed them what I saw across the balcony. Danielle took a picture, which you can see at the bottom of this post. Her and Juanita now refer to this event as “the incident”. She is having a birthday party at Juanita’s next Saturday and asked me if I would give all the guests a “Brian Pratt sleep walking tour”. I obliged.