Friday, March 14, 2008

temporary residencies


for a while when i was a kid we lived in a dingy residential hotel. i wont write too much about this, but its got much more to it than im willing to go into now. not that i dont want to share, i just dont have that much time to write. otherwise id give you the full story.

anyway, i think the hotel was called the Winton or the Winston. it was on O'farrell street in the heart of San Francisco's Tenderloin District. this is when i was about 6 years old. there are a few different stories i have about living in the hotel, which, to my recollection, was only about six months (i know it wasnt a year, i dont remember celebrating a christmas there), but like i said, i dont really have the time to really go into them now.

i gotta put together my records for another gig tomorrow.

what i'll do instead is just bang out the highlights of my wondrous affair with the Winton [or Winston] hotel:

- i had a baby sitter. she was in her 20s and lived downstairs from us. her room was always a mess of clothes and empty fast food containers and ashtrays and cigarette butts. i would get dropped off there and we would just sit around doing nothing. she didnt have much interest in entertaining me. the tv would turn on and the first of a series of Marlboro reds would be lit and the hours would drag until my mother finally arrived to pick me up. she lived in a corner room and outside her window was a long open shaft that was the length of the building. i think at the bottom of it is where they kept the trash cans. one time while i was watching television and waiting for my mom to come get me, we heard a loud, sickening thud outside her window. someone had fallen four stories trying to break into one of the rooms. the babysitter didnt even bother herself with investigating it. she just looked out and down from her window and saw the culprit laying there, tangled up on the concrete. she took a drag of her cigarette and said, thats what he gets. and turned the tv back up.

- i dont know if my mother was working at the time, but i was definitely going to school. i went to an elementary school right off of Polk Street. i dont think i was the only kid there that lived in a hotel. in any case, i had to get up early every morning to get ready to leave and my mother would always have the tv on when i woke. on the same channel too. it was always The Great Space Coaster. to this day every time i hear the theme song to that show i am filled with the uncertain anxiety of my youngest years.

- they had communal bathrooms in the hotel. my mother would never allow me to go to them alone. there were a few times that i would go to the bathroom and someone would be in it but had left the door open. the shower would be running or a naked lag would be stretched out from the stall. i never thought much of it, assuming that it was a mistake. it wasnt until i got older that i realized it wasnt an accident, but an invitation. trust me, open doors in a residential hotel should not be entered.

- there was a big lobby at the main entrance. people would sit around on the many couches reading or staring or waiting. sometimes they just hung out there all day, watching as the residents came and went. the front desk people never spoke to anyone. they would usually just look up and grunt at you when you walked by. even me, a six year old. they had no time for pleasantries. no one really did there.

there is plenty more i assume. the culture of living in a residential hotel is something of itself. but like i said, i have to prepare for a gig, so im gonna cut this post short.

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:gray matters: by jkg is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at downtownalleys.blogspot.com.