Our really cool apartment in LA, and the stay-at-home actor idiot who drove us out of it

My mother mentioned in the comments the other day how she missed our really good apartment with the big bay window and I said I do too and then someone else said, "What apartment?" and really a whole other world goes on in those comments, folks. So let's take a trip back through June's sordid past, shall we?

2000 001

In 1999, Marvin and I were looking for an apartment in LA, and back then, you actually looked in the newspaper. Can you imagine? Anyway, for 60 bucks, you could pay extra for this service that gave you the inside guff on other apartments, super-secret-squirrel apartments, and somehow I talked Marvin into paying for this feature. I have no idea how I did this; it must have been back when he still liked me. The very day we shelled out for super-secret-squirrel, we heard about a place, and I called about it.

An old man answered. "Oh, yes," he said, "the place is marvelous. It was built in 1940." Well, right there, he had me. As Nora Ephron says, by the time you're 35 in LA, you are older than most of the buildings. Most apartments are multiplexes built in 1991 with all the character of that Heidi person from The Hills.

Anni 001

The old man went on to say that the apartment was a duplex, it was 1,400 square feet, hardwood floors (which always bothers me. As opposed to what? Liquid wood floors?), crystal doorknobs, the original crystal chandelier in the formal dining room (see it at the tip-top of the photo above?), a built-in corner cabinet, a dressing room in the closet, original light fixtures, and a fireplace.

Outsidex4 001

It sat on a hill, on a third of an acre, which in LA is practically sprawling. "I live on the top floor," he said. "I own the place. Mother and I bought it in 1950, and she and I lived here until she died."

An old queen! I would be living underneath an old gay guy! I could sit and drink daiquiris with him and hear old Hollywood bathhouse stories! I could hear about Rock Hudson and Paul Lynde and Dash Riprock, even though Dash Riprock was from The Flintstones. Oh, it simply could not get any better than this.

"There are 100 people who've already filled out applications," he told me. At this point I was prepared to gleefully run through Los Angeles with a straight razor, slicing from ear to ear the throats of each and every person who had filled out an app. Instead, I said, "Can I come see the place right now?" It was like a Tuesday at 10 a.m., but I freelanced then. I could do things like charm the pants off an old queen on Tuesdays at 10.

The place was in Silverlake, which at the time was just getting trendy. As soon as I pulled up I knew I wanted the place desperately. Everything he showed me, from the cute front porch to the hexagonal tiles to the original wallpaper he had just probably never bothered to replace to the '50s light fixtures to the scalloped details in the kitchen, I kept clapping my hands over my mouth and gasping.Ruby

Okay, stupid, stupid, stupid Typepad is crashing CONSTANTLY again, so from here on out are pictures from our old apartment just splayed randomly and I am just going to tell the story. I have been restarting my computer for two hours. I HATE THE NEW TYPEPAD.

So. Somehow we managed to get that apartment, without paying extra rent, or rent for the whole year in advance or by baking a cake or doing any of the things I have heard my friends do to get cute places. Just by luck, we got picked. And for the first year or two, it was bliss. Mr. K. was the cutest landlord ever, the neighborhood was to DIE for (the Red Hot Chili Peppers lived there!), and since I freelanced I was all up in everybody's business.

I got up each morning and went for a long walk through the neighborhood with a friend, then climbed back up the hill to our place and sat in our big bay window and did my work, while managing to totally Gladys Kravitz out the window all day long. Oh, I knew everybody's everything. (See the built-in cabinet? Oh!)Dining room 001

So, basically, I was happy. I think when you are happy you do not notice it. It is only when you are sad, like when you are HATING TYPEPAD, that you notice your surroundings. (I was in this bay window 47 hours a day. That fluffy gray cat was the marvelous Mr. Horkheimer.)

Bay 001 

Anyway, Mr. K., our cute landlord, had no family, and he was in his 80s. He was having some trouble getting around and such. He did have some friends who came by, and one woman in particular came every Friday and took him to dinner, and she spent the night and cleaned his place on Saturday morning. But suddenly, this man Rik started coming around. He was Italian. My life was over. (There's my pal Renee. But I was really showing you the yellow tile.)

Renee 001 

"I have someone helping me," Mr. K. told us. He's an actor. He may stay in the sheds from time to time. You'll never know he's there." I will never forget those words. You'll never know he's there.

This shyster told us that not only was he an actor, he had also been named Mr. Italy of some year (long ago), and that he was a personal trainer and he taught Italian lessons, too. My. What a renaissance man. I was kind of excited about the personal trainer part. "How much do you charge for that?" I asked him, seeing as I can't stand to ever have a dime in my pocket. And do you know he was very vague? And didn't seem interested in getting my business?

Soon Rik moved all of his personal belongings into the shed in our back yard. These sheds had no electricity or running water or anything, but Rik didn't seem to mind. He had a shopping cart kind of thing that he filled with bird seed, and his entire day seemed to consist of going out with bird seed and feeding pigeons. Sometimes he would bring pigeons back home, to his shed.

Now, I am an animal lover, but after a few months, Rik's shed, which was seriously the size of, you know, a SHED, consisted of Rik, his worldly possessions, and like 15 injured pigeons. They could be heard COOING in our back yard. I expressed some concern about this, but Rik sort of blew me off.

Months went by and what do you know, Rik slowly began spending his nights upstairs in Mr. K's increasingly valuable property. The years we lived in that neighborhood, houses around us went from being worth $400,000 to well over $1,000,000. Mr. K's place, being a duplex, was valued at over 2 million. And Rik? Had not done one second of work. But he spent several hundred dollars of Mr. K's money having 8×10 head shots made of himself, which he plastered all over our neighborhood with a sign reading, "Actor for hire. No soaps, no commercials."

Now, there'a a way to get work. Because certainly no one else in LA is looking for, you know, acting gigs, and you wouldn't want to waste your time going on any auditions. And certainly letting people know you won't stoop to doing soaps or commercials is going to endear you to just everyone.

It was right around this time that Rik started telling us that he was really a detective. "I am detective," he would tell us, in that not-at-all-annoying-by-now Italian accent. In fact, we had a lot of accidents on our street, and one time a guy flipped his car, and Rik ran out to the guy, in his UPSIDE-DOWN VEHICLE, and said, "It is okay, I am detective. You can get out of your car" and Marvin had to run over and say please don't move, that guy is crazy. Please stay put.

Also, Mr. K's health was declining, and he was getting confused, and his friends were stopping by less and less. And I am sure this had nothing to do with the fact that Rik had put a sign on the door that read "Please don't Nok" (that's how he spelled it) and a sign inside the door for Mr. K that said "Do not open door." Mr. K's friend, the one who used to stay every Friday night, finally called us in tears. She told us Rik had threatened her and told her she couldn't come around any more.

I guess I forgot to say that somehow in all this time, Rik had erected a TWENTY FOOT pigeon cage in the back yard. It was like The Birds back there. There was pigeon poop on all our backyard furniture, our cars, our porch, everything. Then one day, we found FOUR DEAD PIGEONS in our fireplace, and I got a bizarre fungal infection IN MY THROAT that required huge antibiotics.

It was at this point that we called the Health Department and Adult Protective Services for Mr. K. They made stupid Rik take down his pigeon structure, and they made him STOP FEEDING THE RACCOONS AND SKUNKS, which, who is he, Elle May Clampett?

As for the senior abuse thing? It ended up going all the way to court. Rik, who was as straight as an arrow and how somehow managed to have a girlfriend, claimed in a court of law, under oath, that he was Mr. K's gay lover, and poor Mr. K was too out of it to say yes or no to this. (I do not know why I have hydrogen peroxide in this photo.)Winderagain 001 

We had lived at this wonderful apartment for seven years or so at this point, but obviously we had to leave, what with taking Rik to court for abusing Mr. K and all. The only good part was that a social worker and a nurse came a few times a week, to make sure that Mr. K was being taken care of. His friends, however, never got to see him again, and Mr. K. died last year, with stupid Rik being the only person there.

And guess who still lives in that house? Mr. Stay-at-Home Actor himself. There is no justice in this world.

Us 001

There is only one really good thing I can tell you, though. When we were about to leave LA, Marvin was a substitute teacher. This automated calling system calls you every day at 5 a.m. to see if you can teach that day, and you press 1 for yes or whatever. When we moved, Marvin called to tell them he was moving. The forwarding number he gave them? Rik's.

36 thoughts on “Our really cool apartment in LA, and the stay-at-home actor idiot who drove us out of it

  1. Please don’t think I’m crazy, but I really think you should polish this story up & submit it to the New Yorker.


  2. Aayy ohh, whadda makin fun of the Italian accents, huh? Hey, how you doin’? Me and Vinnie over here just wanna say we lika you post, uh? I’m jus sayin is all….


  3. wow. I am glad to hear more details of the story you told us in person. Rik. Ick.
    Any chance he’s still getting calls at 5 am? Or maybe he’s been eaten by birds. Or a throat fungus from all the dead animals. Poor Mr. K. I’m glad he had someone to fight for him, even if you didn’t win.


  4. FYI, you don’t want softwood floors, they splinter and dent easily. The apartment was so lovely, I can understand why you loved it. My heart just cried for Mr. K. You reap what you sow! That is an absolutely, so Rik has some tough seeds he will be harvesting. I hate people that scam old people, there is a hell, and they will be spliting it wide open. Give us Rik’s phone number and we’ll keep him busy. We have a dear friends that something terrible happend to them, except the pond scum that scammed them took their business. This makes me furious!


  5. Come on, you mean to tell me with all of the crime out there, nobody ever mugged Rik? He’s due for something.
    And I know it’s hard to believe, but you can have softwood floors. I have them, courtesy of the previous owner of my home.


  6. I don’t think his name was really Rik at all. It was probably Richard or Rich and to fit in with Mr. K he took on the K at the end of Ri. I seriously would like for you to post his number so we can harrass him.
    Oh, and, Merry Christmas to all!


  7. What a cool story (not Rik he is uncool) the charm of the area and the characters are oh so familiar to this girl who lives in LA. I would miss the window too.


  8. Marvin and I, who are obsessed, cannot figure it out. Mr. K had a reverse mortgage on the place. So wouldn’t the bank own it now? If so, how could Mr. K leave it to stupid Rik? When we were all in court, we heard that Mr. K’s savings were dwindling dramatically back then, which was in 2006, so I am sure there is very little left. Oh, how I wish I knew how that scammer was still there.


  9. How did Rik happen to end up living in the apartment after Mr. K’s death? Do you think Mr. K left everything to Rik?


  10. You are a GREAT story teller, but, oh, I weep. From lovely crystal doorknobs down to squalid pigeon poop. Poor, poor Mr. K. And what was with Rik’s aversion to the letter “C”? He didn’t have one in his name nor did he use on on his threatening door note. He must’ve had a childhood incident with the letter “C”. I hope he dies from a massive koronary, the kreep.


  11. I loved all of the story except, of course for Rik. Karma will get him – it always does.
    Be happy where you are! Someday you may be writing in your blog about “this really cool place I lived in Carolina… it was the best place ever” – but you are there now!
    Does that make sense? Maybe I need another cup of coffee…


  12. NObody can tell a story like you, June. The description of the apartment – I felt like I was walking through it with you and, of course, I fell in love with Mr. K and when you told us of the villan Rik, my hands began naturally curling, as if they were holding a big KNIFE to plunge into his heart and then I could free all his pigeons and adopt Mr. K and feed him egg salad sandwiches on his balcony and watch black and white movies at night while sipping Cosmos and eating little crackers and of course I would invite you and Marvin in for breakfast in the morning: poached eggs and little bits of smoked ham.


  13. I am filled with rage for Rik. And who spells Rick with just a K anyway????? He STILL lives there? How do people get away with this stuff? I sense a double lynching. Dog walker & Rik. There will be an uprising from your following.
    Jan’s comments? Cracked me up.


  14. I know. And he is so obsessed with helping animals! He had the potential to be someone I liked a lot! But what he did to Mr. K was beyond words. I didn’t even mention how neglected and dirty Mr. K got. He had been so dapper when he was well. But at the end, Rik kept the poor man in his pajamas all day, and I don’t think he was feeding him correctly, either.
    How can he SLEEP at night, is what I want to know?
    Oh, and I kept looking in the Social Security Death Index re Mr. K, plus my old neighbor Alicia kept me abreast of the gossip.


  15. So several things came to my mind while reading your post.
    1. You look mah-vee-lous
    2. I love that apartment
    3. I hate Rik and I hope that he gets 1000 cuckoos nok-ing on his door
    4. I love that Marvin forwarded the 5:30 a.m. calls


  16. If Rik hasn’t had his just ‘rewards,’ he will. I hate hearing stories of how leeches harm those unable to protect themselves. Such a lowly, scummy worm.
    Thanks for the story and the photos. Love the photo of Miss 2000 – NOT worrying about the world coming to an end because all the computers around the world are going to crash.


  17. Let’s go lynch Rik.
    How did you hear of Mr. K’s demise? Certainly Rik the Dik didn’t call you. What a creepy, creepy man. I actually gasped a little when I read about the “don’t open the door” note.
    I want to comment on all of the pictures but am too tired tonight. The apartment sounds like my kind of place. I will just say how very saucy you look, June, in the photo where you are enticing Marvin to help you clean a wound with your peroxide.


  18. Love the story, the apartment—what a life.
    Hope Karma came and bit Rik really hard on the bum. I agree with Janera I also hope some creep adopts him.


  19. I agree with Cathy. I bet Rik received some sort of payback for being such a bum. And the apartment sounds so great! What a great place!
    And also? My husband found a website dedicated to cats that look like Hitler — kitlers. The Hitler reference notwithstanding, they are all cute little cats with mustaches. And my point in saying all of this is that I think Francis could be a kitler. You should submit his picture!


  20. Culpepper,
    That is Marvin’s grandmother, the one who used to wear Joy perfume. Look at her over there peering at me. She loved cats. She was probably happy to hang with the cats and me in the photo.


  21. You know I love this story. The old building, the crystal doorknobs, the wood floors, the chandiler…this is my kind of place! In the picture labeled Bay 001 there is a desk (or something) behind your chair with a cool picture of a lady. I am sure I am the only person who will notice her but I love that picture! By the way, Rik sucks and Marvin rocks!


  22. What goes around comes around – or is it what comes around goes around? Anyway, stupid Rik got his comeuppance, I bet.


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