God, my breath must smell like Dentu-Creme. I opened the Columbus Dispatch yesterday to the real estate section and read this:
Randy Carr didn’t bother with a home inspection before buying the century-old Victorian brick house on Neil Avenue. “I didn’t hire an inspector to find out what was wrong with the house,” Carr said. “I knew everything was wrong. The insurance company wouldn’t cover it.”
Hmm, sounds like a real wreck, I thought, reading on. (Sometimes, on Sunday morning, you need to look at the real-estate section before you move on to the news.) And then the dawning revelation: I not only know this house, I’ve been in this house, I’ve partied in this house, I’ve been impressed by this house, and whaddaya know, it was falling down all around me:
Although (former owner Corbett) Reynolds had tackled some roof repairs, exterior painting and interior remodeling, he hadn’t been able to keep up with the maintenance of a huge house.
“Corbett’s trick was to paint everything black — the walls, woodwork and ceiling.
“If the ceiling started crumbling, he would tack up a piece of plywood and paint it black or something very dark. Then he filled the room with his art. People would come in and say, ‘What a great house.’ But what they were looking at was his art.”
Count me among those fooled. I dimly recall a restored-to-Victorian-perfection house, with parlors and butler’s pantries and everything fussy fussy fussy. (A friend of mine rented the third floor, but he was friends with his landlord, and it seemed that every time I visited I’d end up walking through the main house on one errand or another.) One day I came over and the place had gone bipolar — gone were the horsehide couches and glass lamps and all the Victoriana and in its place was black. He’d painted the walls black, the ceiling black, the woodwork black (the woodwork!), and filled the room with Warhol prints lit by little spots. It was jarring, but very cool. I recall thinking, “Someday someone will have to strip that woodwork and will curse his name,” but until then, hey, it was his house and he could do what he wanted with it. Who’d have ever thought all that black was hiding water damage, the same way black pants hide a fat ass.
Corbett, the original owner, was an artist and something of a partying visionary. He owned an abandoned movie theater on the west side, which he rechristened Rudely Elegant and opened as a nightclub. Then it closed, and he went to a schedule where it would only be open one night a month, for an invitation-only theme party. I thought it had something to do with his liquor license, but after I attended the first one I think it was more about the preparation needed.
The first one was the Red Party, held in February. (Link warning: Main page is OK, subsequent photos may be NSFW or homophobes.) The space was filled with dancing bare-assed cherubs and neon hearts. Then came the White Party, the Colors Party and the most infamous of all — the Black Party, which was all about leather. I might still have the flyer for that one, which featured a nude Ohio State cheerleader in a black mask and a black rooster. (It was the Chinese Year of the Cock, which would have made it…1981.)
Needless to say, while no one made me feel unwelcome at these events, it was pretty obvious they were not aimed at my demographic, so I never stayed long. It was always worth the cover charge just to see how they’d decorated, though. Googling around, I see that Wikipedia gives Reynolds shared credit for inventing the circuit party, which the Red Party was.
The real-estate story in the Dispatch didn’t mention any of this. I guess it would have been a tangent.
As everyone knows, Peggy Noonan gets on my last goddamn nerve. Which is why I’m singling out this blue-moon rarity, a column of hers I actually like. It’s about what the 9/11 victims said when they were able to make phone calls in their final moments:
Something terrible had happened. Life was reduced to its essentials. Time was short. People said what counted, what mattered. It has been noted that there is no record of anyone calling to say, “I never liked you,” or, “You hurt my feelings.” No one negotiated past grievances or said, “Vote for Smith.” Amazingly –or not–there is no record of anyone damning the terrorists or saying “I hate them.” …This is what I get from the last messages. People are often stronger than they know, bigger, more gallant than they’d guess. And this: We’re all lucky to be here today and able to say what deserves saying, and if you say it a lot, it won’t make it common and so unheard, but known and absorbed.
And that seems like enough to leave you with now. Have a good day.