By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
CHUNG-KAH! CHUNG-KAH! CHUNG-KAH! CHUNG-KAH!
Then it stops. Beef and I exchange looks. Wild Man reappears in our field of vision, now inhabiting the posture of a reasonable 19-year-old man strolling into his dorm room. The door closes softly behind him.
After a moment, Beef says, “That was interesting.”
“That was,” I reply.
We sip our beers and wait.
The Billy Joel stops. Wild Man’s door opens again. The crazed eyes have fallen sad. In addition to his boxers, he now wears over-the-calf tube socks.
“My music’s not too loud, is it?” says Wild Man.
I modify Beef’s and my window screen. Because our window faces the bottom of a steep hillside, the distance between the window’s bottom and the cement gutter outside is maybe four feet. And no one ever goes there.
With a pocket knife, I make one long cut, separating screen from frame. It begins about halfway down one side, across the bottom and halfway up the other.
It doesn’t look any different — it just hangs there — but now empty bottles thrown at the open window pass through the screen and fall outside, breaking in relative quietude. The flap immediately falls back in place, and it appears as if the hurled bottles have simply disappeared into thin air.
For most of us, fall quarter 1980 is spent learning the ways of the big school, studying, drinking beer and, for me, getting stoned and drinking a lot of Jack Daniel’s. I’d taken to drink and drugs rather well in high school, beginning at the end of 1978, right after my older brother, Daniel, died of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Danny had been an English major at the University of Illinois, and had been accepted by UCLA’s English department for fall ’79. Danny and I had made short films together since we were little kids, and he’d been planning to apply to UCLA’s film school after getting settled in the English department. So when I applied to UCLA, not long after his death, it was with the intention of eventually getting into the film school, trying to make something of what my big brother had taught me.
Unfortunately, drinking and stoning aren’t helping with grades. By the end of sophomore year, I won’t have the minimum 3.0 to even apply for the motion-picture/television major. Eventually, I’ll declare a major in art and experiment with video. For now, I drink; I get stoned; I take any class that fulfills humanities-style breadth requirements while requiring minimal actual attendance. I am, as they say, “majoring in lecture notes” — unfocused, open to suggestions. I am not alone.
Soon we will be teachers, writers, lawyers, musicians, financial advisers, private investigators and artists. But for now, we play football, basketball, baseball, volleyball, soccer, drums and guitars. We shoot pool after dinner and share care packages from home. We swap sections of the morning papers between bathroom stalls.
Computers are not yet personal. We are manual citizens. We write by hand. We type on borrowed IBM Selectrics, at best. I have my brother’s old Royal Deluxe manual typewriter in a case.
Every Friday night, there’s a quick floor meeting. At one of the first ones, the sophomores explain how Dungeonites have traditionally thrown big-ass theme parties, because otherwise no one comes down here except to do laundry. It’s the only way to meet girls.
Someone brings up the notion of Dykstra as its own city. If Dykstra is its own city, the Dungeon is Skid Row. Skid Row becomes the theme of our first party.
We get kegs from Liquor Barn in Brentwood. R.R.A. (a.k.a. Scott, Our Resident Adviser) helps with the age requirement. Even though there are plenty of us with the strength to move kegs, it’s nice to have Big Steve (230 pounds, freshman center on UCLA’s football team) just across the hall, for fine-tuning the keg locations after they’ve been tubbed in ice.
The kegs are tapped, and the basting begins.
(No one seems to remember the origin of our use of the term basted, probably because we were all too basted to notice. Just as good citizens on the floors above us and in buildings all around for miles in every direction and on every continent get wasted, trashed, thrashed, fucked up, fried, stoned, ripped, blitzed and twisted, Dungeonites get basted.)
Several rooms have been emptied for the night, including 103. Earlier, Beef and I removed all unattached furniture and locked everything up next door in Little Steve and Pete’s room; desk chairs were brought into 103 and arranged in rows. Our room is now the Skid Row porno theater — we show the Dungeon collection of 8 mm porno loops all night, corrupting the minds of our peers. Gangly Jughead and stony Davey-Boy Reaves have replaced their furniture with a single foldout table covered in crisp white bed sheets. Their room is the Mission. Jughead dresses convincingly as an Inquisition-era Spanish priest, stands behind the table, blesses the guests and serves mind-bending punch from an enormous cauldron.
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