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Into the Malibu House of Malevolence…(part 2)

Posted in cooking, dogs, Malibu, Music, production, wildlife by Susan Hamilton on January 14, 2014 1 Comment

At some point during our last summer in that Malibu house we decided to move. We’d made our peace with the creatures, spirits, etc., but it was time. I was busy writing and producing songs and jingles, with an entire album on the horizon. We found a house just across the canyon that was bigger and better suited for the newly-expanded family (it’s the one we eventually sold to Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers). It was only after we’d made the decision that the native wildlife rebelled. They didn’t want us to leave — and certainly didn’t want to have to deal with new, less understanding humans.

They began to act out.

First, Nag and Nagaina decided to raise a family in the backyard. (No they weren’t Indian cobras; they were well-fed native Southern Pacific rattlesnakes). The gardeners killed Nag, and proudly brought me his corpse. That left Nagaina. Naturally, she was pissed.

One morning I followed Maggie, our Airedale puppy, into the kitchen.

Maggie the Airedale puppy

Maggie

The door to the back patio was wide open. Suddenly a terrifying buzzing sound reverberated throughout the room. I thought, “Insects? Hmmm. No. . . Rattlesnake? YES!”  Nagaina was coiled, set to strike, on the mat just outside the door.

I screamed “NO!” at Maggie as she moved in to investigate, grabbed her by the hips and yanked hard as I kicked the door shut. Nagaina’s fangs pinged against the glass.

But she didn’t leave. She stayed on the mat, glaring at us inside. Shaken, I called Michael at work, and he sped home. Malibu rattlerHe grabbed a shovel, snuck around back, and when she turned toward him, whacked her head off with it. The still-snapping, severed head, full of venom, almost got him as it shot past his elbow.

Now, I’d read about the rattlesnake round-ups and barbecues they hold annually in Texas, so I thought, “What the hell!  I’ll give it a try.”  I didn’t have a recipe, but had heard ‘it tasted just like chicken,’ so I chose a lemon/mustard/olive oil marinade. First, though, I’d have to gut and skin the thing. More…

Into the Malibu House of Malevolence…(part 1)

Posted in Hit Woman, Malibu, Music by Susan Hamilton on January 12, 2014 1 Comment

It was such a fun, pretty house!

Spanish Colonial style, set way back off the end of the narrow twisting road that led to the Pacific Coast Highway....down a long, gated driveway This was Via Escondido, and the house was down a long, gated private driveway. Around the final curve, the drive opened onto a grand stone-paved courtyard. Wide arced steps set with fancy Spanish tiles led up to the heavy wooden door. It was the hand-painted tiles of every shape, size and design that dominated, even overpowered, the whole house.

It was a large home, meant to impress. The architect had designed the imposing entrance to exaggerate the effect. People would arrive at my door and say, “What is this place? A hotel?”

Entrance to the Via Escondido house

…terra cotta pots, filled with flowers…

After the chaotic Year of Dislocation in the Pacific Palisades (the town I nicknamed ‘Stepford’), Alex—who was 10—and I were relieved to get away from the spying, police-summoning neighbors, as well as the histrionics that had come with our just-out-of-the-closet houseboy (detailed in “Escape to L.A” chapter in Hit Woman). We were going to start anew in beautiful, rural Malibu: and where better than in this sunlit, seemingly quiet mansion? I’d made the decision to stay in California, to move all my furniture from New York. I would line those wide steps Italian-style with dozens of terra cotta pots filled with flowers of every color. At last, a lovely place to settle down. Little did we know…

There were no visible neighbors. The State Conservancy’s hundreds of acres (complete with a spectacular waterfall about a mile up the trail) abutted the blossom-laden, terraced backyard, all centered around a pretty fountain (tiled to the hilt, of course). Rare for Southern California, a shallow creek ran alongside the property. The house had lain empty for a long while. We couldn’t figure out quite why, but blessed our lucky stars that it had waited for us.

The first order of business was to persuade the insect and rodent population to evacuate the premises. I had a talk with the ants, silverfish and spiders. I was friendly but stern. Our Cornish Rex cat, Shadow, ate the heads off of a few of the hefty Norwegian roof rats. They all listened, cooperated, and left.

I made a few friends in town, and soon began to hear some tales about our new homestead. Wild tales. I—a single mother with a young son—was now living in the house of a major drug dealer  More…