Monday, February 02, 2009

Welcome to Lucifer's

Noland is playing this videogame right now called Fallout 3 - in it he's walking around the DC area in a post-apocalyptic world fighting the bad guys and is often wandering around partially blown-up buildings with open walls and no ceilings. As I was sitting reading the other day and half-watching him play one of the scenes he was in reminded me of this place I used to go the summer between my senior year of high school and my freshman year of college.

We called it Lucifer's. It was in Lawrence, KS - about 20 miles from where I lived in Topeka - where older teens would go at night and hangout. Some people would bring booze or pot or shrooms, but at that point in my life I didn't do more than have a beer or two. It was an apartment building that according to what I heard, burned while in the midst of construction, and for some reason or another the project was abandoned. So it was 3 or 4 stories high - had cement floors and staircases and partial walls, but nothing else. While it was right in the middle of the city, and not to far from other apartment buildings, the property was full of trees that probably were going to be cleared, but never were and was quite overgrown. So from the street below you couldn't really see or hear any activity up there. A majority of the building was covered in graffiti - some of it just random, some of it was beautiful artwork. The kids who hung out here weren't the jock or cheerleader types - this was a hang out for the artsy kids, the weirdos, the punks and the 'goths' (as they'd be called now). And on one side of the building someone had painted in huge letters "Welcome to Lucifer's!"

I remember going there one evening after being out dancing at a local club that we could usually get into. There was a big electrical storm going on and there was a guy sitting the edge of the top wall. He was big and bald and reminded us of Tiger(?) the bad guy from the old Buck Rogers TV show. He was dressed like he was ready for the RenFest and even carried a big staff. As the lightning cracked overheard he would just raise his staff in the air and laugh. I think he might have actually been selling - but we were more entertained by his antics than anything else he had.

I also remember being there once when the cops showed up and we had to bolt down the hill through the trees and leave whoever's car was there up in the parking area for them to retrieve later. It was one of the last nights we were all going to be together that summer. School started soon and people were headed off to various colleges so someone had brought a keg, a rare occurrence, and they had to leave that behind as well.

It was one of those places that has always held a sentimental soft spot in my heart. And probably one of those places that freaks parents out because they imagine the worst... yet it was nothing more than a little bit of booze and minor drugs, couples making-out in dark corners, and friends enjoying being young. It made me smile to think of it as I watched Noland trot around his videogame land, and it made me smile even more to think that places like that and the people I met there probably were the first step in Noland and being such a perfect match.


Anonymous said...

For some reason i was thinking about Lucifer's today and found this page when i googled it. I use to hang out there in the later 80's, usually after a show at The Outhouse. I remember getting chased off by cops up there. Good times!!! I wish a had a photo of that place (i thought i had one from way back but i can't find it). I was looking for one online but i haven't found on yet.

Jeni said...

I'm from Lawrence - I was just telling some people from my work about it. We called it Graffiti Hall. I have a picture of it - and I know for a fact other friends of mine have many others. I have it right here, actually. I need to scan it so I can pass it on to others.