Pink House. 130 North Street. Back In The Day.

Fellow residents from the 1991-94 years were Clint Curtis, Shyam Patel, Raj Krishnasami, Lydia Craft, Jess Deltac, Kyle York Spencer, Caroline Rivers Hall, Mel Lanham, Michelle Sinnott, Jay Murray, N'Gai Wright, Scott Bullock (who crashed on the couch for a year before finally moving in), Bryan Ellerson, Karen Hurka, Sally Stryker, Ryan Mathias, Charlie Speight, Chris Palmatier, Trent McDevitt, and Steve William.

Besides holdovers and returnees Jay, Scott, Mel (& Laverne!), Chris, and N'Gai, residents during 1995-97 included Allen Sellars (who, like Jay, lived at both the Pink House and 401 Pritchard), Ian Williams, Zak Bisacky, James Dasher, Linden Elstran, Jiffer Bourguignon, Grant Tennille (who first made the scene as a fixture in N'Gai's room circa summer '93), Zia Zareem, Ben Folds, Tom Holden, and Chris "Chip" Chapman.

- Erik Ose

Saturday, October 30, 1993

Heaven and Hell at the Purple House

Last weekend was Halloween. The night before, my housemates and I went to a party at the Purple House, which is where Tony was supposed to DJ that time y'all were going to come down. The party had a swinging theme - Heaven or Hell. See, the Purple House is a very big house. Every room was open to the crazed, costumed hordes who came swarming through. The rooms were all decorated in different ways, colored lights everywhere, black lights, strobes, debris on the stairs, floors, all over. And everyone, it seemed, was wearing these really elaborate costumes. One guy was William Shakespeare. Then there were some zombie tourists. Another miscreant had an Ernest mask that covered his face, and made him look like a ghoul. He was up in people's faces all night long, fucking with them.

One of the guys who lives in the Purple House is a friend of mine named Ian Williams, who worked on a book project with my housemate N'Gai this summer. Ian also was a contributor to this book 13th Gen, which you may remember me showing you at some point, a book all about kids in our generation. Anyway, Ian was dressed as a blue angel. He was the party host in charge of Heaven, this room where he was mixing up clear blue drinks all night long. Also in this room was something thoroughly bugged, which you have to try and find up north.

It was this christmas tree light device called "Magic Christmas" - a specially designed string of christmas lights. They were arranged in a spiral, all strung up on the ceiling. Using this little hand-held device that you squeeze in and out, sort of like a little joke water-squirting device, you can control the speed and frequency of the patterns that these "Magic Christmas" lights flash in. It was too much. Oh, and at the very center of the house was this little scroungy bathroom, lit up with the only red light in the place. So you could say this bathroom was the epicenter of hell as it existed that night at the Purple House.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

Sunday, October 24, 1993

Lichtenstein at the Guggenheim, Miro at MOMA

During our NYC trip, we went to all these museums, chilled in the Village nearly every day, went out to clubs, hung out with Dana and N'Gai, checked out Harlem, went to a church service for New York's jazz community, saw famous people, got to see a completely phat jazz performance, and were almost constantly driving all over the city, owing to the fact that our crew was staying in three different places around Manhattan.

We saw retrospectives of Paul Klee and Roy Lichtenstein at the Guggenheim galleries, and a Joan Miro exhibit at MOMA, which was incredible. We went to the Museum of Broadcasting, which is on West 52nd street, between 5th and 6th avenues, I think, right around the corner from MOMA, and is totally the shit. They have a computerized card catalog system with all these TV and radio programs from the past, donated by the networks.

Anyone can go in, reserve space on one of the ninety-six VCR consoles they have, and select programs to watch. I saw the premiere episode of this animated show "Wait 'Til Your Father Gets Home" that you and I used to watch when we were little and that I've been wanting to see again for years.

It was produced by Hanna Barbera, Tom Bosley from Happy Days did the father's voice, and it was like an animated All in the Family, very socially relevant, a hippie son, sexually liberated daughter, and a crazy right-wing next-door neighbor who belonged to the John Birch Society.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

Saturday, October 23, 1993

Ray Combs almost caused a riot at the $5 Psychic

The jazz show was in a little restaurant in SoHo called Sweet Basil, an infamous spot in the pages of New York jazz history. My housemate Mel and I went there on the Saturday night of our visit, a night when everybody had split up to pursue their own agendas. We saw Mal Waldron, a pianist who used to play with Eric Dolphy, and who now has his own quintet. On bass was Reggie Workman, who used to play with John Coltrane. It was essentially the best jazz going on in the city that whole weekend.

Recorded in 1987
You know what else I recall about Sweet Basil? We were seated in the very front, and you had to duck and swerve whenever the trombone player had a solo lest you get banged in the head with that brassy curve. That was a great concert! - Mel, 2009
We each had to pay a $15 cover and get $10 minimum worth of drinks, so Mel and I split a big bottle of wine. Later, after the show, we went out walking around the Village for a while, both of us slightly drunk. There were all these psychic stores around, and one of them had glaring neon signs everywhere that said "$5 palm reading special." Mel decided she wanted to have hers read.

We sat down and were chilling, waiting on another guy and his girlfriend who were inside to finish their reading and get out. Then, up came these other four kids, two guys and their girlfriends, about our age. They were all from different boroughs outside the city, mostly Queens and Long Island, I think. We started talking with them, and they were cool. None of them were in college, but they were all very aware, and we were talking with them about NYC politics, and the media, and all sorts of bullshit.

Meanwhile we're all getting kind of impatient waiting on the people inside, and I'm thinking to myself, and saying out loud, yo, we should chill out before this palm reading woman puts a voodoo hex on us. And then, we're all looking inside the window, thinking all of a sudden that the guy in there with his girlfriend looks awfully familiar, that we've seen him somewhere before, and then it hits us - he's the guy from the new Family Feud! The motherfucking host!

So everyone flips out, and we're yelling "Survey says!," and tapping on the window, and waving to him, and then the girlfriend comes out, and she starts yelling at us, telling us that she's trying to have her reading done, and then the psychic woman comes out and starts yelling at as too.

Now I'm like, oh my fucking god, she's definitely going to put a hex on us. All of a sudden, from out of the shadows come these mafia type guys, three of them, real shady looking. They start telling us, alright you kids, get out of here, this is our store, we don't want you here, and I'm like, oh shit, whatever, and I start trying to get up and leave. But one of these kids that we were talking to starts arguing with one of the mafia types, and the shit looks like it's escalating fast.

Not one of these kids could have been more than twenty-one or twenty-two, and these guys were like in their late forties, early fifties. Out of a door comes another shady character, this one a skinny kid about our age, and he gets into the thick of things shouting, "yo, that's my father you're talking to!" Mel is right up in there herself, trying to be a peacemaker, and I'm thinking, great, so we're about to get shot by some mafia family. I don't know how the shit cooled down, but it did, and there was no fight. Luckily. In the commotion, the Family Feud guy vanished, and we never saw him again.

Later that night, however, when we went to meet Steve at a gay club called The Roxy, I ran into that Norman guy from the first Real World. He hosts a cable access show now, and since it was Disco Diva night, they were filming some of the transvestites at this club. So those were our brush-ins with celebrity while in New York.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

Did we meet Michael Alig clubbing at Tunnel?

Friday. Our road trip to NYC continued. This was the night that Mel, Steve and I tripped down to the gala opening of Puzzled, a new weekly event at a nightclub called the Tunnel. Located on the corner of West 27th Street and 12th Avenue, on Manhattan's extreme west side, overlooking the West Side Highway. As we pulled onto the block of 27th between 11th and 12th avenues, hookers scattered in all directions. Various unsavory characters who resembled pimps lurked in doorways, keeping watch over a steady flow of club kids who were teeming everywhere.

The crowd flow seemed to be headed away from the club, which immediately made me fear that we might have a hard time getting in. It was precisely two a.m. when we finally walked up to the main entrance. Five or six doormen were keeping things in line. It took us a half hour to get in, and we still had to pay $20 apiece, but it was worth it.

The shit had three levels, inside it stretched for like half a city block, and there were a good 2000-2500 people there. At least. Every second person was wearing some elaborate, fucked up costume, people in cages were dressed as animals, mirrored lounges lined with silver-upholstered couches everywhere, with holes in the middle, filled with little yellow plastic balls. One big room where all the balls came from, just like at Chuck-E-Cheese.

Nude dancers downstairs in the basement, upstairs a whole network of different rooms, each with their own DJ, each hosting a separate private party for all the New York club cliques. Huge silver tendrils hanging from the ceiling, only slightly lighter than punching bags, swinging back and forth amidst the crowds. The former lead singer from Devo (Mark Mothersbaugh) had some paintings on display in an art exhibit in one section of the club. Right near the coatroom was some guy wearing a business suit, chilling behind a desk in a picture perfect office space, behind a plexiglass window, who was being paid to sit pretending to do type, and file stuff, and do office work all night long, just to fuck with people, because it was the last thing you would expect to see at a place like the Tunnel!

The whole scene was like a rave, only for the older, New York club set glitterati.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

(Note from 2009 – we met a lot of crazed club kids that night in the VIP areas. I wouldn't be surprised if one of them was the infamous Michael Alig (Party Monster), who had to have been there hyping up the next Puzzled. On the puzzle-shaped, die-cut flyers from this night, plus the ones we took home for the next Friday's party, Alig was listed as a co-promoter.)

Wednesday, October 20, 1993

NYC road trip detour through Pennsylvania ghost country

I went up to NYC with four other friends - my housemates Mel and Steve, a guy named Zak, who's a friend of my other housemate Jay, and Derek, who I first met through N'Gai this summer.

Our journey began on a Wednesday afternoon, right after classes let out. We drove straight from Chapel Hill to Pennsylvania that evening, which is where Mel is from. She lives right near where this Revolutionary War battle called the battle of Brandywine took place, just south of Valley Forge. Her town looks like a little village that time forgot - I could totally envision ghostly horses and carriages winding around the curves of the roads as we got closer and closer to her crib.

- Letter to Jared, 11/7/93

Wednesday, October 13, 1993

Chapel Hill Eyesores by Jay Murray

Was The Matrix conceived at the Pink House?

(Hitlists, Stay Free! #3, Oct. 13 - Nov. 9, 1993)

Here's the scenario - Carrie McLaren asked me to contribute a hitlist to Stay Free!, her kick-ass local 'zine. This is what I came up with. Written in my upstairs room, probably late at night, and printed out on a...wait for printer. Coincidence? I think not. Hand-delivered to the editors (or at least given to Jay the next time I made it to the bottom of the stairs, so he could deliver it), because in the fall of '93, I was still six months away from getting an e-mail account (although our future housemate Chris Palmatier already had one through UNC, and Stay Free! was using it to receive online submissions - see below).

The Oct. 13 - Nov. 9 (aka November) issue's cover story was a Beginner's Guide to JFK Conspiracy Theories, written by Stay Free! co-conspirator Pat Anders, who had graduated from UNC Law in May (An unemployed attorney, Anders lives with his parents in Burlington). Around this time, Carrie was getting ready to leave Chapel Thrill behind for the Big Apple, where she would produce Stay Free! as a respected, full-fledged magazine for nearly ten years.

MY conspiracy theory on the subject is that Carrie brought copies of this particular issue up to NYC (out of a 6,000 print run) to help get Stay Free!'s name out there, and it became a hot item on the strength of Pat's cover story, running as it did exactly 30 years after JFK's assassination. Eventually, a copy found its way into the hands of...the Wachowski brothers! Who read my hitlist, threw in some shit from Jean Baudrillard, William Gibson, and Philip K. Dick, and voila! The result was an hugely profitable franchise called The Matrix. Where's my f-ing royalties, that's what I'd like to know. Although there's also a school of thought claiming they ripped it all off an episode of Doctor Who.

The Pink House was well represented in this issue. In addition to contributions from myself and Jay (his take on Chapel Hill Eyesores plus assorted record reviews including My Trip To Planet 9 by Justin Warfield - "This is the best rap record I've heard since Gang Starr's Daily Operation"), Chris Palmatier interviewed one of the guitarists from Pittsburgh-area rockers Don Cabellero, future resident and newly-minted veteran of the couch scene in N'Gai's room Grant Tennille reviewed Black Sunday by Cypress Hill ("What looks like death metal, sells like Garth Brooks, and makes you want to light another?"), and frequent houseguest Zak Bisacky did a review of Chapel Hill band June's debut 7", "I Am Beautiful."

Saturday, October 2, 1993

Dazed and Confused at the Varsity

M: I remember going to see...what was the movie that the Slacker guy made?
E: Did you come with us to see Dazed and Confused?
M: Yes. Dazed and Confused, absolutely. Like a huge line of us went to see it.
E: That was a legendary voyage. Because we rolled deep. There were like, a dozen or fifteen heads.
M: I remember there was a line to get tickets to the movie, and we were the line.
E: We brought booze into the Varsity. We were passing around big bottles of rum. And boxes of cereal. For snacks. We had our own snacks. Either Froot Loops or Fruity Pebbles. Whatever it was, it was good.
M: Yeah.
E: So you were there!
M: I was there.
E: That was awesome, man.
M: Having seen Dazed and Confused since then, it was much better the first time.

- Mike & Erik on the back stoop, 2009


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