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Couch #9 - Genevieve

Couch #9 – Genevieve – June 8th, 2010

Couch #9 belongs to Genevieve.   When she moved into her place, she had a bed, chair, desk, and a computer, a stereo and a bunch of CDs.  Genevieve knew she wanted a leather couch and found it on craigslist for $150. She is very happy with her purchase.  She isn’t very tall, and so it’s comfortable for her to sleep on. Genevieve lives in a studio in an apartment building on the border of Koreatown.  She is an actor and pick whatever other work comes her way.  She has a 17 year old son who lives in Florida with her Mom, who is his legal guardian.  She likes to read, write, fool around with her guitar, practice her piano, hang out with friends, go out drinking and get rowdy, go hiking and  is working on singing too.   She talks to herself and has conversations, although she thinks of it more as talking to God and the Universe to help her work things out.   We are acquaintances and met on the set of “American Bar”.  Our friends wrote it and I was the photographer.  That was in 2007.  One of her favorite songs is “Breathless” by Nick Cave, although she also likes Cat Power’s version even though it has the opposite feel.  She likes the film “Goodfellas” and enjoys any food with pumpkin.  Genevieve thinks the whole project is pretty cool and she wanted to be a part of it. She wanted to open her doors and share her space with me.   She feels as if I am performing for 50 days.  That I always have to be on.  That I am putting myself outside of my comfort zone.  She believe that change is always good.  She is right on all counts.

I left  Jay’s place early on the morning of June 8th as almost every Tuesday I do some volunteer work at Sante D’or Animal Rescue in Atwater.  I had skipped the week before and as the past week had been quite crazy I wasn’t sure that I would remember how to do anything there.  Almost every time that I’ve been there since I started volunteering at the beginning of the year, my friend Kelly, who runs the place, had been there.  And when she is there, I can always lean on her to tell me what’s changed and to lead the way.  As it had been two weeks since I had been in, a crazy last week, and as I was hungover, that would be especially necessary today.  Another of the volunteers who is very knowledgeable and reliable was also there and there were 2 additional, new volunteers.  So there was plenty of backup.  They all took care of all the little things while I dove into the general, easy work.  This work includes cleaning out the cages of  probably 30 cats including changing their newspaper, cleaning out their box, and making sure that they have clean water.  It’s dirty work and I come out of there stinking to high heaven, but I do enjoy it.  It got me out of the house when I had a place and it keeps me grounded.  So I spent the morning doing this.  When everything was done, I was exhausted.  I still had the keys to Nico’s place and so I headed there.  I made a quick stop at the Village Bakery Cafe (or something like that) down the street from the rescue and grabbed some lunch.   Upon arriving back at Nico’s I fully intended to have a productive afternoon.  But, I was hungover, and had just busted my ass for 4 hours at the rescue.  After a futile attempt to get something, anything, done, I had to lay down on Nico’s couch for a nap.  Once I woke up I realized how ripe I smelled still and a shower was in order.   I hadn’t shaved in probably 2 weeks and so I thought I would take advantage of having a private bathroom and give my face a nice clean shave.  After getting a few more things done, I headed over to Genevieve’s place in the Koreatown area for some dinner, conversation, our interview and some photos.

When I arrived at Genevieve’s place, we were both hungry.  Genevieve had been threatening to cook, but after a short discussion, it was decided that we should go out, but where?  It was fairly easy to go to Melrose or to Los Feliz from her place, so I suggested that we go to Little Dom’s in Los Feliz.  That’s my go-to place there.  She countered with the Dresden, the place from the movie “Swingers”, and as I always forget about that place, I jumped at it.  It wouldn’t be the cheapest meal of the journey, but right now another treat sounded good.  We arrived and after a little searching, were able to locate street parking nearby.  We made our way down some local streets towards the Dresden and wandered right past a former co-worker of mine.  One of the producers that I had coordinated for in recent years lives in this neighborhood and happened to be out front of her place as I walked by.  We exchanged pleasantries and discussed this blog briefly before Genevieve and I continued on our way.   I always find it interesting when I run into someone unexpectedly.  It was a pleasant surprise.  Arriving at the Dresden, Genevieve and I made our way into the bar/lounge area.  It was empty, and we grabbed a table.  We ordered a beer, but unbeknownst to us, we couldn’t really order dinner there.   We decided we would finish our beers, talk a bit, and then move into the dining room area.  The basketball game was one, so everyone at the bar was glued to the TV, glancing only occasionally at the tube, Genevieve and I talked.  She is an actor and so we discussed the play she was recently in as well as the importance of camaraderie among a cast.   Genevieve told me how it was important, but that even when there is a difficult or less talented member, one can usually rise above the difficulty and still put forth their best effort.  We also discussed her acting classes as well as this project.  We finished our beers and made our way into the dining room for dinner.  I was set on getting the prime rib.  I believe that Genevieve got the chicken piccata.  The meal was delicious and the conversation continued.  In addition there was an old timer at nearby table having a discussion with one of the employees.  They were discussing the word “valedictorian”.  He was sure that it meant more than the student usually having the highest rank in a graduating class who delivers the valedictory address at the commencement exercises.  Unfortunately for him, that is the only definition.  But his insistent and tone stopped Genevieve and my conversation.  This led to Genevieve to discuss other words which may or may not have other definition.  I believe the one that we got stuck on was “sward” or maybe “swart”.  We never really finished this discussion as food coma started to set in.  We had finished our meal and decided it was time to return to her place and get our photos and interview under way.  As we wandered out, we decided to head out through the lounge, if only to catch a glimpse and hear a bit of Marty and Elayne.

When we arrived back at Genevieve’s place I needed to regroup a bit and charge my cell phone.  While her neighborhood seemed fine, I have to admit that I was a bit nervous about my car.  You see, while most of my things were in storage or at a friend’s place, I did have a number of things in my car.  After all, I was living out of the thing. My trunk was full and my back seat had become my dresser.  It’s not so much that I was worried about my stuff getting stolen.  The stuff in there isn’t really worth stealing.  It’s more that I was worried that someone would break in thinking that there was something worth stealing, causing damage to my car that I really can’t afford to get fixed these days.  This is still an on and off concern of mine.  That car is a big part of my life these days and should it become damaged, I’m not sure what I would do.  Anyway, after I checked my email and whatnot, we conducted our interview and did our photo session.  That went well and we started to settle in for the night.  We put on the news and watched the election coverage coming it.  It wasn’t a big election night, but it was big enough to grab our attention.  This was actually the first election I hadn’t voted in in quite a while.  I was a bit embarrassed by that, but not so much.  I’ll vote next time.  While all this was going on, Genevieve was getting my sheets and blanket for my couch…err…loveseat for the night.  That’s right, I would be sleeping on a loveseat this night.  Yes, I had agreed to sleep on a loveseat.  I was a bit anxious about the whole thing, but as I would soon find out, it would be very comfortable and I would sleep very well.  While all this was going I was playing around with the Canon Rebel Ti1 that I had been lent the night before.  I glanced around Genevieve’s place and saw some interesting things including a poster of Stevie Nicks on the wall, and photograph of Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter).  The words “Inspire” and “Imagine” were emblazoned on the wall.   I snapped a few shots, but would save the rest for the morning when the light would be better and I would be rested.  It was getting late and we both decided it was time to hit the sack.

That night I had the first dream that I remembered when I woke up in a little while.  I was in pristinely empty garage with a big window on one side.  The light coming through the window accented the dust a lit up the space.  A man, like one of those car club guys I know, stood next to an old Shoebox Ford.  It was painted matte black and looked like it had been restored beautifully.  The man said “It’s ready”.  I like to interpret dreams, and I while I don’t remember exactly what I read that morning, having looked up this stuff before, I knew that it meant that I was being given control of my journey and that it would be a classic one.

Once up in the morning, Genevieve made coffee with her French Press and cooked up some eggs. I took some more photos around her place and then got my things together.  We said our goodbyes and I left heading once again to Nico’s place for the day and then later, to yet another couch.

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About 50 Couches in 50 Nights

My name is Dean MacKay. In June and July of 2010, I slept on 50 different couches in 50 consecutive nights. I took photographs of the couches, both as a couch and as my bed. I took portraits of my hosts and interviewed them. I documented their homes on film and digitally as well as in a journal. I was treated to home cooked meals and intimate secrets. I was cared for when I was ill and checked in on after I was long gone. There were sleepless nights and busy days and times spent discussing the past and dreaming about the future. I drank a lot of coffee at a lot of different coffee houses. There were old friends who became closer and acquaintances who I now call my friends. There were even strangers who invited me into their homes. Threads were woven among them all. My skills were honed as I practiced my craft on a daily basis. I learned many things about my hosts and I continue to learn many things about myself. These times are unforgettable. This journey was initially born out of necessity. The economic times had taken their toll. But the fruit of this labor is not simply financial. It is emotional and spiritual and societal. I tapped into something that is still developing. And as it develops I will share with you this knowledge as well as providing you a way to share it with others. I hope that you will support me as this journey continue and grows. I plan to unveil many things from this work including a coffee table book on the couches, and perhaps other books and a documentary. I'm also hoping to get the blog carried on a major website. Of course, and second project is also in the works although what form it will take has yet to be determined. Any assistance or advice that you can offer to further these projects is welcome. Your support, both financial and emotional, is crucial to my success. Thank You. © Dean MacKay 2010

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