1990 1/2 Summit Street
The three of us move into 1990 ½ Summit in January of 1997, and are the last people to call this address home. Examining the evidence, one might reasonably conclude that this was probably a good idea.
The dingy green and white tile of our kitchen floor is crudded over with black, ditto the bathroom. Whoever rented the place immediately before us – a bunch of skate punks, judging from the scuffed up hardwood floors and various stickers plastered all over the refrigerator – seriously ran 1990 ½ Summit Street to seed. Inexplicably, they left a dozen bags of kitty litter behind, too, but also this intricately carved wooden floor lamp that I swiftly claim as my own.
Mushrooms are growing in the light sockets; our bathroom window is nothing but a taped up sheet of plywood, and raccoon tracks are discernible along its eastern wall, between the sink and commode. Wiring proves a joke – we blow light bulbs at a record clip as days go by – and in the master bedroom, a leak is soon discovered so severe that Alan nearly kills himself one afternoon climbing all over the roof trying to remedy it.
A sad setup we’ve willed ourselves into, though typical of the campus area. By chopping up this once beautiful, spacious house, that faceless someone from decades past has rendered these four bizarrely construed apartments. In our case this means Alan, who owns a large bed and really nice stereo and more stuff than Damon and I combined, is to be given the master second floor bedroom. In actuality, with an ornamental marble fireplace and all, this should be the living room, but we’re not concerned with such trivialities.
Along the long hall which leads from the stair landing and the filthy bathroom, filthy kitchen, in between these and Alan’s room, my own tidy corner of the galaxy lays. A snug little twelve by twelve alcove, hardwood floors but more or less warm, tucked, as it is, in the middle of our apartment. Drifting further, up a second flight of stairs which begins across the hall from my room, a third bedroom looms above, and a fourth beyond it. In the summer months this upper floor will turn unbearably hot, but for now this third floor’s a source of much welcome warmth.
As those two are accomplished musicians and I at least enjoy bumbling along, the three of us compile our assorted equipment in the first of these rooms and dub it our jamming facility. Damon claims the other, in the deepest reaches of the third floor and directly above Alan’s quarters. His window, like the two in Alan’s room, looks down upon the steady roaring traffic of Summit Street, US 23, as it tears its way through campus en route to downtown.
In case you’re wondering, here’s the view of a dumpster pushed up against the back wall of a house, so that its residents might theoretically launch trash straight down rather than carry it out:
If such a thing were to theoretically happen, that is. This is what the scene might look like. On a similar note, here’s what a kitchen at, say, 1990 1/2 Summit Street of a city called Columbus, Ohio could resemble if your roommate bought a store mannequin and you decided to attack it with duct tape and spaghetti:
Meanwhile, this is what the bottom of our stairs looked like, just inside the front door, following a night where we decided to launch potatoes and other food items from the landing above. Incidentally, this is not how the smoke detector ended up here. I don’t remember this, but Paul tells me I came home from the bar on a completely different night and was cooking some late night grub for us on the stove. The smoke detector started going off, which was on the wall just above, and while continuing to stir with my left hand, apparently I smacked it off the wall with my right hand without really missing a beat. It skittered around and somehow landed down on that first step. What can I say, that was a long time ago. I might not remember it, but that sounds about right.
Damon does replace a number of electrical outlets that aren’t working, and mounts a fluorescent light on our kitchen wall in lieu of a bum overhead one, but our attempts at home improvement really extend no further. Unless, that is, you count the Bob Marley poster Damon stole from some hall at OSU, hanging in our kitchen with a bogus signature:
Thanks boys for the memories. Bob.
It takes us two and a half months to purchase a single trash can for the house, and even then it’s only a knee high model gracing one bathroom corner. We plaster our refrigerator with beer bottle labels and hang panties, donated by any willing females, to our kitchen wall, in an effort to amass 100 before moving out. There’s a hole in the middle of our drop ceiling above, where Damon took out that malfunctioning fluorescent light, and somehow it becomes tradition to fling our bottle caps up there. We get to where we can toss these into that gaping cavity – some are able to do the whole finger-snapping thing, though I could never master this skill – without even looking up, as we sit at our kitchen table and shoot the breeze.
The potholed gravel lot behind our house is unfailingly crammed three deep with crooked cars, the most haphazard parking arrangement imaginable. Sharing it as we do with three other apartments carved from this same massive house, with curbside slots on Summit exceedingly hard to nab.
Its head crammed full with spaghetti brains, we leave the mannequin rotting in our kitchen as long as the stench will permit. Once this becomes impossible, our plastic goddess defends this castle externally, raising her jagged fluorescent sword upon this very porch. Weeks transpire. At some point, however, motivated not so much by disgust as by the hassle of continually standing her upright, and the aesthetic horror of a joke worn out, we determine she’s ready to meet her maker. Even in executing this theoretically simple task, however, normalcy never manages a toehold.
“Dude, let’s make her feet stick out of the dumpster!” Damon enthuses, “maybe the cops will think it’s a dead body!” And so fifteen minutes are spent arranging this.
The above is a piece of instrumental music I recorded in our notorious 3rd floor jam space. I just wanted to document the way various instruments sounded in that room, for posterity’s sake if nothing else. With its low ceiling, funky angles, and hardwood floor, it kind of had a unique sound. What I did was just run one side of cassette tape and bang away at random on various pieces of Alan’s drums. Then plonked away in primitive fashion on someone’s bass for another full cassette side. Then piled the two recordings atop one another to see if anything matched and sounded cool. Most of it is of course pure crapola but this part came out semi-interesting. As always with experiments like these, the point isn’t really the debatable, nonexistent “song” but rather at least having a record of the space’s acoustic properties. This section I could see maybe in a low budget indie movie from that era, and at somewhere along the line gave it the title “Action Sequence.”