By LA Weekly
By Henry Rollins
By Weekly Photographers
By Shea Serrano
By Nate "Igor" Smith
By Dan Weiss
By Erica E. Phillips
By Kai Flanders
In e-mails to friends and family, Haskell described his new benefactors as old friends with an off-and-on relationship going back 20 years, who now lived in separate bedrooms at opposite ends of the loft, with their coterie of tiny lap dogs. Wojciak taught design at USC, and photography and imaging at Art Center. They also operated two businesses out of the loft: Yes Press, their publishing company, whose only title appeared to be Sub-Hollywood, and Clean Advertising, a freelance design business that, according to records, Wojciak founded in 1996. Kalberg seemed pleased with Haskell’s efforts, at least initially, but throughout the month, tensions between them steadily mounted — two alpha males locked in close quarters, with Wojciak the only buffer.
This tension was exacerbated by the prescriptions Haskell told Thompson and others Kalberg was taking, and which, he said, the couple traveled to Tijuana in mid-August to acquire in bulk. (LAPD crime-scene photos show prescriptions for Tramadol, an opiate-like painkiller, and Diazepam — generic Valium.)
“A couple of days after they came back, [Haskell] calls me and says, ‘It’s just bedlam over here; it’s hell — he’s on all these psychotropic drugs,’” says Doriandra Smith, a friend who visited him several times at the loft. “He just said that it would become incredibly unmanageable to be there because Bruce was acting so psychotic and nervous.”
But from his comments to various women friends, Haskell’s friendship with Wojciak — the loft’s sole leaseholder — seemed to blossom the more strained his relationship with Kalberg became. And, he suggested, he wasn’t the only one feeling the strain. Inviting another old girlfriend, Zuade Kaufman, to dinner on Olvera Street on Friday, September 6, he wrote in an e-mail that he and Wojciak “really need to get out of here later.”
“He told me, ‘Ewa is so supportive of me,’” says Thompson, with whom Haskell was shooting a music video at that time. “‘Every time Bruce freaks out, she comes and she pulls me aside and she says, ‘Aw, forget about him. He doesn’t have any power here. I’m the one who’s hiring you; I’m the one who wants you here. You don’t have to go anywhere. Everything’s fine.’”
In an e-mail he sent to Haskell at 1:43 a.m. on August 26th, Kalberg addresses the topic of Wojciak, as well as Haskell’s increasingly precarious tenure, in the form of what might be interpreted as a veiled threat. In the course of a long, rambling tirade, he introduces a character he calls “Gay Pervert Fucker,” an ex-employee of Clean Advertising who Wojciak was allegedly afraid to fire: “I walked out of my office room on Beverly Blvd. by Erewhon, then I said, ‘GPF clear out of this office or I will kill you from behind and splatter your head all over the wall.’ Then I walked back into my room… If or when I make it to Nogales or even Tijuana, Ewa and yourself will have some halcyon days (Springtime in Germany for Hitler or however the song goes)… Then you will find yourself repeating yourself yelling and generally going crazy like moi (francaise for ‘me’)… Lastly, if you sit around here long enough you will acquire a motorcycle or a better auto by dint of being patient with my vociferous obnixious [sic] temper and helping Ewa and selling books which in turn frees up some space and will make us money.”
With Kalberg and Wojciak in Tijuana, Haskell put into motion a longstanding plan to shoot a music video for Thompson, who was looking to revive her music career. “Pete said that he’s gotten and refused more opportunities than most people get in a lifetime, and he wasn’t going to do that again,” says Thompson. “He was going to take every opportunity he got this time. This isn’t the first time he left L.A. in frustration and came back.” They filmed at the loft on August 23rd and 30th, both Saturdays. On Thursday morning, September 4th, at 8:30 a.m., Thompson got a call from Lani Colver, Ed’s wife, a professional makeup person for TV and film who was helping Thompson with her makeup, concerned that Haskell had showed up at their house the night before in a highly agitated state, so drunk that they wouldn’t let him leave.
In the week before his death, Thompson says, Haskell told her that Kalberg had pulled a gun on him. (Photos were discovered in Haskell’s digital camera, dated August 10, 2008, of Kalberg holding the gun he used in the killing.) “Pete was really upset about that,” she says. “He said, ‘If that motherfucker pulls a gun on me again, there’s gonna be a problem.’ He said it a number of times, and every time he brought it up, he said, ‘I’m not going to back down next time. I’m not going to leave next time.’”