The Sandinistas are shooting a movie. Rather, the Sandinistas are being paid to allow a movie to be shot at their house. We knew something was up a few months ago, when the Sandinistas installed new grass and paid two guys to climb up high on the two palm trees in their front yard and peel off several decades’ worth of bark, in an effort to make them look more manicured. We had hoped, though, that this meant that the Sandinistas would be putting their house on the market. We had celebrated, privately, behind closed doors, at the prospect of the Sandinistas moving out of the neighborhood, even if we felt a little bad about it, in theory.
The Sandinistas live in a gigantic mansion that is about five times the size of every other house in the neighborhood, and that is located right at the end of the street on a corner. But the size of their house notwithstanding, they are not rich. No, they bought their house during the last California housing market decline, in the mid-nineties, at a government auction. For $500,000. The house, even considering the considerable renovations and updates that would be required to make it move-in ready for a buyer, would sell for a minimum of $3 million in the current craptastic market, provided you could get somebody to buy the biggest house by far in an otherwise middle-range neighborhood. I’d have to imagine that it costs about $2,000 a month to air condition the place, if they even have central air.
I should clarify that the Sandinistas are not so much a family as they are a liberation front. There are only two regular members of their household–the matriarch and a Rottweiler that I’ve privately named Trotsky–and the rest of the people who frequent the house use it as a boarding house of sorts, drinking their Pabst blue ribbon on the porch, occasionally stacking the cans in the kind of beer pyramid that might have once interested my brother’s roommates at UCLA. So at the corner of my street, we have a large, multi-million dollar home that is unofficially used as a halfway house for wayward teens, the kind of people that the Sandinistas matriarch, I assume, considers to have been unfairly targeted by the notoriously racist justice system of Los Angeles and, naturally, the general machinations of class in post-modern America.
So, no, they aren’t moving. Instead, they’ve figured out a way to be even more annoying. And that is to have movies shot on their property, inviting giant white trucks and the requisite production crews clogging up the street and asking bizarre questions like, “Can we dig a hole here?” while pointing at your lawn. Last week, I went outside to see five hundred people walking up the street–I’m not exaggerating. There were five hundred people–extras for a frat party scene–walking up the street in the middle of the day, each of them carrying red plastic cups as props.
So, did I say anything to them about this? Of course not.
Let me tell you the last time we talked to the Sandinistas about anything. Mini was very young, and was in his car seat–the kind you can pop in and out of the car, and carry around like a baby carrier. I was standing over him in the seat, putting things in the car on the driveway. Then I looked up and saw Trotsky walking slowly towards me from the edge of the driveway. Trotsky has always been friendly, but there are certain breeds of dogs that I’m not ashamed to racially profile; and in my mind, Rottweilers, no matter how sweet, are always only about one wrong move away from flesh-tearing. This is why we had asked that Trotsky never be allowed to stroll the neighborhood, sans a leash, and be kept in their yard, behind a fence, at all times. Apparently, the Sandinistas didn’t agree with this request, so I grabbed Mini before Trotsky could get a sniff of baby flesh and got Mr. Right-Click.
Mr. Right-Click took Trotsky back over to the Sandinistas and had a chat with somebody. When he came back, he told me they wouldn’t be letting Trotsky out anymore. I asked why, and he said that he made it clear that it wasn’t OK. I kind of wondered about this but said OK.
The next day our car was egged.
Now, I don’t want to point any fingers, lest I be compared to the notoriously racist and classist justice system of Greater Los Angeles. But still, I did ask Mr. Right-Click what he had told the Sandinistas when he went over there to return Trotsky, and he said that he told them if that dog was out without a leash again he was going to take her to the most remote no-kill shelter he could find, and not tell them where.
So this time, I’m not going to say anything. But if I find any holes in the lawn I better be getting a royalty check.