Punk Paradise Lost
This youthful creativity flourished with the blessing of the houses' elderly landlord, who never seemed to mind his tenants' zany escapades. The downside, tenants say, was that he didn't maintain the houses--and finally stopped paying the mortgage. The landlord says that's because the tenants didn't always pay their rent.
The crisis came this summer. In the end, the only question was who'd drop the hammer--the city inspectors or the bank.
"The RAW Haus never slept"
On a sun-drenched September afternoon, Chuck Rock meets me outside the downtown Sweetwaters. Rock's black hair streaked with red, his fingernails painted black, and his body covered with tattoos attract a lot of looks from passersby. A few men frown, and more than a few women smile.
Rock, thirty-one, earns his living as the receiving manager at the People's Food Co-op. By night, though, he's a punk celebrity: as Preposterous the Clown, he performs scary stunts like lying on a bed of nails while a confederate sledgehammers a cinder block on his chest.
"I was the first resident of the RAW," Rock says proudly. When he arrived in 1999, he recalls, "the floor was as polished as a basketball court--you could see yourself in it--and [the house] had nice wooden finishes and engraved door hinges."