By Nita Keswick, Quilt staff
DATELINE: VASSAR AVENUE
Despite rising fuel costs, Ron Milanek couldn’t have been happier when he finally turned the heat on in his one-bedroom apartment last night.
“The lower temperatures should mean that a lot of the bullshit around here, if not over, is at least going to be quieter than it usually is for the next few months.”
Cooler weather traditionally means that Canoga Park’s boisterous populace will be spending more time inside which may result in fewer people congregating below Milanek’s balcony around his apartment complex’s pool — an outcome that this Thursday, he’ll be thankful for.
“I actually moved here for the pool,” he admits. “It’s kind of ironic because I’ve never gotten to enjoy it.”
|Photo courtesy Ron Milanek.
Milanek notes that during warmer weather, despite the pool’s posted hours of nine a.m. to nine p.m., “people are out there from about seven a.m. until well after two a.m., blasting music, cursing and fighting. Kids are screaming constantly. Constantly. I think the capacity for the pool area is 22...? There’s usually about sixty people there on any given day. Or night.”
“All of the patio furniture ends up in the deep end pretty much every weekend,” he reports. “And almost none of these people even live here — I have no idea where they come from.”
“Two weeks ago I woke up and looked out the window to see some guy giving himself a 'Reseda bath' [cleaning one’s anus with a damp shop rag —Ed. ] in the shallow end. I watched him go out a side entrance to the RV that’s been parked in front of the place for the last three months.”
The 38-year-old Walmart shift manager thought he’d seen it all until late September when “there was some crazy standoff involving a guy with a gun down there. Not only could I not use the pool, the cops made everyone stay inside. I got written up at work for being three hours late.”
|Standoff Room Only: Vassar Avenue was crowded with both helpful lookee-loos
as well as a bevy of emergency response professionals in September — thanks to an
old-fashioned summer poolside standoff, inconveniencing one and all. Staff photo.
“The only time I’ve ever been able to use [the pool area] was one morning in August. I went down there at 9:30 when it was somehow empty,” says Milanek, originally from Chatsworth. “I wasn’t there for two minutes before I cut my foot on a broken beer bottle and then as I was stumbling around trying to stop the bleeding, I burned my other foot on a pile of hot charcoal from a barbecue that someone dumped out by the side of the pool the night before.”
Alcoholic beverages, glass containers and grills are all prohibited in the gated pool area, though, to be fair, copious graffiti on the heavily-vandalized Pool Rules signs does make it hard to decipher.
|Some argue pool rule violations are forgivable since signage may be difficult to read. Staff photo.
Despite the drawbacks of living by a pool he's unable to enjoy, Milanek admits — in the spirit of the holiday — he’s still grateful about his situation. “Those poor bastards who live near that piece-of-shit women’s club have it much worse,” he notes, referring to Canoga Park’s infamous anything-goes night club.
And as for his ‘Turkey Day’ plans? “I had to put in a request months in advance but I managed to get the day off and I’m looking forward to a nice, quiet Thanksgiving. My girlfriend and her parents are coming over so that should be nice. I’m doing all the cooking,” he says, opening his refrigerator to show off a large turkey and all the fixings of a traditional Thanksgiving feast. “Look at all this stuff! I spared no expense this year. I’m nervous but excited.”
Heading outdoors to the walkway outside his apartment door, a rare pre-holiday calm has settled on the usually noisy complex, further improving Milanek’s already pleasant mood. “Tomorrow should be good, though. No one at the pool — and the unit next door is vacant, so that means peace and quiet. At last.”
Suddenly the quiet is punctured by the arrival of two men piloting clanking handcarts laden with cases of beer and oversized stereo speakers as they round a corner and roll down the walkway to stop at the adjacent door.
“F_ckeen, we can move in the furniture an’ shit on Friday — after the housewarming party an’ shit. Man, this Thanksgiving is going to be off the f_ckin’ hook! Here, hold the lease so I can open the door an' shit,” one of them says to his friend while fiddling with a single key on a key ring.
“Yo, what the f_ck you lookin’ at, homie?” he barks at Milanek.
Ron Milanek sighs, then calmly pulls his phone out of his pocket and Googles the number for Norm’s Restaurant in Van Nuys.
“Uh, hello. Are you guys open tomorrow?”