you're reading...
Couch #11 - Louis and Kene

Couch #11 – Louis and Kene – June 10th, 2010

Couch #11 belongs to Louis and Kene.  Louis’ father passed away in 2002.  He was living in Bakersfield with Louis’ youngest sister.  The sister’s neighbor was moving into an assisted living place and was selling  all of his stuff.  The neighbor’s daughter liked Louis’ family and sold him the couch for $25.  It is a vintage 1970’s 6 piece sectional.  Louis and Kene live in a duplex in Miracle Mile.  I believe that the building dates back to the 1920’s.  Louis works at a social service agency doing administrative work and creates art work that photograph based.  It can be either straight photograph, or he may alter the print turning it into a photogram or adding paint, thereby creating “no negative” photography art work.  Kene is a retired curator.  He used to research and buy art for galleries.  They are a couple.  Kene  likes to go thrift store shopping and Louis likes to watch Law and Order, but not any of the other shows like CSI.  Kene’s hobby is working with art and taking care of his pictures, prints, and books, but it’s really more of  a lifestyle.  Louis likes to buy vinyl albums and he still listens to them.   Kene has a brain tumor and is a cancer survivor.  He has had three surgeries. They can’t kill him.  Louis remembers where he was before he was born.  He was with God and when his body stops working he will return there as will we all.  Louis and I met through myspace and then on Facebook.  We met in person at a show we both had work in in April at urban:sanctuary gallery.  Louis believes that we are two artists who are not afraid to reach out to other artists.  When we are creating, we enter a wonderful state of mind.  He’s right.  Louis’ favorite song is “The Word” by the Beatles.  Kene likes “When the Gates Swing Open” by Clara Ward.  Kene likes Indian food, which is what I believe they had on one of their first dates.  Louis enjoys eating meals without animals in them.  Kene says that “All About Eve” is the best movie ever.  Louis like “Broadway Danny Rose”.  Kene thinks that once I distill the project down it will be interesting and beautiful.  He also wants his 15 minutes of fame.   Louis thinks that I’ve taken the next step in social networking by spending time with people outside of the internet.  They have visitors in their place all the time. People who don’t want to leave.  Both Kene and I heard a knock at the door that night but no one was there.

I left Bela and Susan’s place fairly on the morning of June 10th.  I had desperately wanted to get my haircut for about a week and was determined to head to the barber today.  When I lived at home I would always just shave my head myself.  But now, being in other people’s homes, I wasn’t going to make the mess there.  So the barber it would be.  After soliciting for recommendations about where to go, I decided to go Sweeney Todd’s Barber Shop in Los Feliz.  I drove across town to get there and found it to be to my liking.  There were old photos books about noir Los Angeles.  There was an old cigarette machine and pulp novels.  It felt like an old barber shop.  The chairs were all full when I arrived, so I would have to wait a short while. I perused a couple of the books and skimmed through the newspaper.  One of the three chairs opened up and then another but I was told I would have to wait for Todd.  He was quite the gentleman and professional.  He gave me a close shave to my liking and also made good conversation.  The price was right too.   And when everything was done, I ran to my car to grab my camera an snap a few pics.  As I am currently due for another haircut, I’ll definitely be heading back there.

I then headed to the Starbucks in Los Feliz for a little while to check some emails and work on my blog and other business. Having just gotten my haircut and needing one otherwise, I next headed to the YMCA in Hollywood for a shower.  I may have mentioned this before, but I often feel as if I have overstayed my welcome at the homes of my hosts and so sometimes I just don’t have time to get a shower in.  Having a membership at the Y gives me a place to go to freshen up.  It also serves as an escape.  I’ve gone there for years so, I sometimes I see familiar faces and get dragged into a conversation, but often I can just go about my business and enjoy a moment of peace.

I got myself clean and left the Y and I was scheduled to arrive my next couch at the home Louis and Kene at 4pm, I started to make my way in that direction.  But wait, I hadn’t eaten anything for lunch yet.  Dinner was promised, but I needed a little something to tide me over.  As Louis and Kene lived in the Fairfax District, I decided to hit Damiano’s for a slice of pizza.  I’m not sure why I went there as I had pizza more than one person should, but it just appealed to me at the time.  I ordered a slice of cheese and sat by myself at the counter scarfing down a slice of hot, stale, pizza.  It adequately hit the spot.

I left and before driving off, I phoned Louis to let him know that I was nearby on my way.  He was waiting for me outside as I arrived and pointed me to a dirt spot next to the garage to park.  Parking was not easy in his neighborhood and luckily he had this extra spot where I could leave my car.  It was just large enough for my car if I pulled up right against the wall.

He helped me bring my stuff upstairs, quickly showed me the house and then we made our way down to the pool.  Louis is an artist/photographer and while we had networked before on Facebook, we had only met face to face recently at show that we both had work in at urban:sanctuary gallery.  Despite being being only recently acquainted, he had supported this project and offered his home and so I felt quite at ease there.  At this point in my journey I was still trying to do too much, too quickly.  While I was sleeping better, I wasn’t quite sleeping as good I needed to.  So when I arrived at Louis’ I was a bit anxious to finish my blog but also simply exhausted.  The project was starting to take it’s toll.  So when we walked down to the pool, I wasn’t at all interested in swimming as much I was in napping.  After some small talk with Louis and Kene about how I was doing and how things were going, I let them know that I was going to enjoy the atmosphere of the pool area by taking a short snooze..  So while Louis caught up on the news in the paper, I dozed off in my chair.

When I awoke, Kene had headed upstairs and Louis suggested that we join him. Once upstairs, I could smell the delicious food that Kene was cooking.  Looking at the clock, I also was anxious to get back to my blog and finish it before it got much later.  Louis and Kene didn’t have wi-fi in their place, but I was able to find an open connection and finish my writing and other business.   Dinner interrupted my work, which was probably a good thing.  Kene had made a chicken and potato meal that as I had mentioned, smelled delicious.  I believe that he is Puerto Rican and had grown up in New York, so  I think that this dish may have been something he had learned given that background, but all I remember was that it didn’t have a name and tasted yummy.  But something wasn’t right.  As tried to eat dinner, I was choking it down.  It tasted great, but my stomach wasn’t having it.  I was coughing and it was obvious that I wasn’t completely well.  I figured it was just a byproduct of having eaten the pizza earlier and didn’t really make too much of it. I  had a couple of antacid tablets and continued our conversation. We discussed living in New York and living in Los Angeles and Kene showed me his Contax 139 camera.

After dinner I went back to the couch to finish my blog so that I could get to the interview and photos of Louis and Kene.  Kene went to watch television and Louis joined me on the couch.  As I put the finishing touches on the photos for the blog, we talked.  We discussed  the fact that Louis and Kene each had there own spaces within the apartment which allowed them to get some personal space away from each other.  I can definitely appreciate that in general, but even more so as I’ve been on this journey.  Louis and I also discussed our different photography routines.  I brought my film to A&I, a professional, but expensive lab, while he felt that CVS was usually fine. I suggested that perhaps he try Costco. I had heard good things from my photo-nerds group.  He said that he would consider both options.  I’m also still considering these other options too.  He also told me about the greatness of the film “Saturday Night Fever”. I hadn’t seen it in years, and when I did, I pretty much saw a dance movie, but he told me it was much more.  I now need to see it again.    I posted my blog and brought in Kene in order to conduct my interview and my photos of him and Louis while neighbors seemed to be celebrating loudly for some unknown reason.

After the interview, we moved into the TV room to watch the news. I was still hungry after not eating much dinner and so I had an apple pastry.  As we had just finished the interview, Kene wanted to know what my answers to a couple of the questions would be.  What are my hobbies?  Well, I don’t really have any hobbies.  As some of my hosts have answered, I have a passion, photography.  It is a hobby which I try to make a living off of.  He also asked…What was my favorite song?   As I mentioned in the previous blog, I had been listening to Ryan Adams as specifically, “Firecracker” and so that was my current favorite.  I’m not sure that I have an all-time favorite these days.   We also briefly discussed the fact that their place was haunted although I don’t remember elaborating on this topic further.  We discussed films that they had seen and that I should see, also without further details as I recall.  These included Louis Malle’s  “Eleveator to the Gallows” and Woody Allen’s “Interiors”.  It was at this point that I started asking about the art that filled the apartment.

Kene has an extensive art collection.  He has all of it on display throughout their place that it covers nearly every wall from floor to ceiling. It was both fantastic and overwhelming.  While their place was no mansion in size, it was good sized apartment.  In addition to the room where I was sleeping there was an additional TV room, another, larger, living room, as well as a bedroom,  kitchen, dining room, office and foyer.  The art grabbed your attention every where you looked.  There was painting, pottery, prints, sculpture, furniture, and much more.  There was Picasso pottery, Matisse prints, Roy Lichtenstein, Dali, and Keith Harring.  There was work from the 1500’s and a that of contemporary artists.  There was even some Mr. Brainwash work.  I didn’t write it all down nor did I photograph much of it, but I’m sure that Louis or Kene can elaborate if they wish or should you want to know more.

Why didn’t I detail this experience more?  Well, around the time that I was getting the tour,  my stomach decided once again that it had had enough.  I did my best to listen and take in all that Kene was saying, but I was distracted.  I kept hoping that this was just a minor distraction and after a good night’s sleep, I would feel much better.   Therefore, once the tour was complete, I got myself together and headed to bed.  Sleep was not to be mine that night.  After laying there for an hour, I rushed to the bathroom.  An hour later, the same thing.  And yet again an hour after.   One more time an hour after that at 4am.  This was not fun.   One of my biggest fears had come to fruition and I was only on Couch #11.  I was also at the home of an acquaintance, and while they made me feel welcome, I’m didn’t feel comfortable enough to burden them with this.   This would have been bad enough if I was in the comfort of my own home and in a bed.  Being on a couch, even a comfortable one, made it worse.  But what could I do?  All I could do was to hope that it would pass quickly.  I knew that I needed something to keep my insides, inside, and an antacid wasn’t it.  I didn’t want to wake Louis or Kene and finally at 4am, I was able to fall asleep for the night.  I woke up in the morning still feeling completely exhausted, but hoping that the worst was over.  Louis had left for work and Kene offered me coffee and Cheerios.  I had a bit of an appetite by this point and being tired, the coffee sound necessary to get me up and get me moving.  Usually it was something I felt I needed, but today I didn’t think I would be able to leave the house without the caffeine boost.  The Cheerios also helped calm my stomach, but not completely. I would again make a few trips to the rest room that morning and after some photos and a shower, I would fall back asleep on the couch.  This was miserable, but I kept fooling myself that I would be okay…soon.   It was getting late and as I often had early on in this journey, I had the feeling that I had overstayed my welcome.  I also needed to get to the store to get some relief as I had mentioned,  and so I pulled myself together, packed up my things and headed out.    It was late morning and I wasn’t scheduled to be at my next couch ’til early evening.  Would I make it?  And in what condition would I be?  More to come soon.

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


4 thoughts on “Couch #11 – Louis and Kene – June 10th, 2010

  1. Hi Gang! We didn’t realize that Dean had been awake all night with his upset stomach! The sculpture is by Jean Rene Gauguin, the youngest son of Paul Gaugin, and is one of Kene’s favorites. The artwork on the photographed wall are German Expressionist prints by Carl Schmidt Rottluff and Erich Heckel; drawing by Hans Burkhardt; lithographic lettering by Henri Matisse from “Jazz”!

    Posted by Louis Jacinto | June 27, 2010, 2:23 am
  2. Having Dean in our home was an unusal and nice experience. I am sorry that he did not let us know how ill he felt. We have a 24 hour CVS nearby and it would not have been any trouble going there for some Pepto-Bismol. It is always nice to have someone come to visit who is genuinely interested in the art. Dean told me that his mom is a retired Registrar, so he has heard her talk about the art she has come in contact with. Most people who come here either tune out the visual stimulation or just can’t ask enough about everything. I believe in Mr. Wilde’s dictum: “Nothing succeeds like excess!” This little journey will be a wonderful take off point for Dean to either do a documentary or a book. Los Angeles is full of very interesting people as well as boring ones and I think those will not be interested in Dean’s project. Yes, he IS doing TOO much in too short a time. The body does not adjust so fast to changes in diet and enviroment. I am happy to know that it was NOT my food that made him ill. Being a person who lives to eat, rather than one who eats to live the thought of not being able to savor a meal is a dismal one! I hope that this project grows into something more than 50 one night-stands, no pun!

    Posted by Kene J. Rosa | June 27, 2010, 4:01 am
  3. I love Kene Rosa & Louis Jacinto – They do have an amazing house. They are 2 of my dearest friends. They are both quite talented. Kene is an execellent cook…
    This was an great piece you wrote about them. Thank You.

    Posted by dawn wirth | June 27, 2010, 4:46 pm
  4. What a great piece on Kene and Luis -AND their house. I felt like I was there again. And surprisingly enough when I do get a chance to make it to their home I can tell when Kene has put something new out! I hope you feel better and know that Kene and Luis would have taken wonderful care of you~

    P.S I think that ghost follows Kene


    Posted by Kelly Horrigan | June 27, 2010, 10:10 pm

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: