This photo probably doesn’t mean anything to anybody else. But to me this was my home for 13 years. And there’s probably something universal and understandable about that. The whole concept of a “home.” This tiny bit of personal space that we get to claim as our own.
I lived there from 1982 to 1995. It was probably the most productive period of my life. I produced a helluva’ lot of artwork in that place. I published 10 issues of an underground punk rock tabloid. Drew over a thousand comic strips. Published 6 issues of a photo-calendar. Published about 60 issues of a monthly newsletter. Recorded a CD. God knows what else. The place was set up more like a factory to crank out product than a home. Ha ha. For a variety of reasons I decided to leave the place back in 1995. And my life was never quite as stable or productive ever again. I’ve been living on the fly pretty much month-to-month ever since. A solid home can be a stabilizing factor.
My favorite home — in fact the only place that ever really seemed like a home — was my childhood home from age 5 to 11. When I graduated from high school at age 17 one of the first things I did was hitch-hike back there to see the place. The people that were living there were very nice. They gave me a guided tour of all the rooms. Every room filled with memories.
There are always a lot of eccentric people living at these residential apartments. This old guy who lived on the floor above me was convinced his apartment was “haunted.” He’d leave a taperecorder recording all the haunted spots whenever he left the place. Then he’d play back for me the parts where he felt he had captured the sounds of the ghost talking. . . . Poor dear.
There was another guy, virtually every inch of his apartment was crammed with pet animals in cages. Birds and hamsters and rabbits and tarantulas and god knows what else. Turned out the guy had spent several years in prison. So now he had set up his home like he was the warden as he paced back and forth among his prisoners. . . That guy might have been a little beyond mere “eccentric.”
It’s so weird to me, personally, this photo. Remembering walking through those doors of that apartment building for the first time in 1982. Age 26. Just a boy, really. Now, standing in front of them 32 years later in 2014, a grizzled old man . . . This life is so much like a weird dream to me. Maybe that’s why I have this compulsion to try and capture it in photos, writing and art. It makes it seem temporarily real, and not just an ethereal, fleeting dream.