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1060 is a typical example of a cool Athens house: a house that gets kicked down from friend to friend, that serves not only as the residence of a few people, but as a center of activity. There are many such houses in Athens.

1060 is also an example of a kind of household that some people think it would be in our community’s best interest to eliminate.

Currently there are only two residents at this household, so it’s legal, but throughout most of its history, 1060 housed between three and four unrelated people. This arrangement was not only financially necessary for the occupants, it was also integral to the experiences.

What follows, then, is an homage to 1060, a house that has meant a lot to me and to many other current and former Athenians.

First Sight

The first time I saw 1060 was at the end of spring quarter, 1990. My friends Michael and Ed were moving out of the dorms, and they’d rented a house. I jumped into Michael’s big blue car to help them move the first load of stuff.

Their new place was a simple frame house – a mill house they call it – white with blue trim, or was it gray? (It’s been painted a couple times since.) And a front porch. I couldn’t believe that my friends had a front porch. The inside was nothing fancy, but it was welcoming. A big, open living room, French doors leading into a big dining room, a long skinny kitchen, three bedrooms, a bathroom, a back porch. We finished unloading the car and then I don’t remember, but I imagine we sat on the front porch and smoked a cigarette.

I didn’t know it then, but this house, 1060, would come to be a fixture in our lives. For the last 13 years, it’s been passed on from friend to friend, an ever-changing but uninterrupted residence. 1060 has become for many a place you can always come home to, even if you don’t live there. And it’s made or cemented too many friendships to count.

“The people you meet there are people who are experiencing their own personal freedom for the first time; therefore the connections you make are especially powerful. Those people you meet really know who you are,” explained Johnson, a former resident.

“It’s kind of like the house is part of the circle of friends,” said Aaron, an eight year veteran of 1060.

And we aren’t the only ones to be touched by this house: Athens-Clarke Country Commissioner David Lynn, for instance, spent a couple years in 1060, and it served a similar function for him and his friends.

As Aaron put it: “1060 definitely has a life of its own.”

I lived in an apartment a couple blocks away from 1060 for the next two years and made many a sojourn to 1060. I got to know Greg, another guy who lived there, and met most of the short-term fourth roommates. (This was still legal at the time). 1060 was the perfect place to gather for a cup of coffee and a conversation about books or Buddhism or the Cocteau Twins, listen to music, sit on the front porch and smoke cigarettes. It wasn’t a party house, but occasionally there were gatherings – an art opening, a band performance.

Then in 1992, Greg was moving out, and there was room for two new people. My friend Tom and I met Ed in the cemetery just down the hill from 1060 – I remember it was at Ricky Wilson’s grave. We talked for a few minutes and it was settled. I couldn’t believe it could that simple. That fall, I moved to 1060.

My Home

When I think of 1060, I call to mind its lovable quirks, the same way you would with a good friend. The name, for example. 1060, pronounced “Ten-Sixty.” Ever since I can remember, that’s the only way it’s been referred to. You don’t say “my house” or “Ed’s house.” You say “1060.” It is a deference to the house and its independent identity. The three bedrooms also have names: the big room (which we crammed two people into those first few years), the cold room (so named because it’s in a converted garage and the floor underneath the carpet is concrete), and the walk-through room, which you have to walk through to get to the cold room.

The sloping kitchen is another 1060 trademark. It was built on a converted back porch which still retains the original slope, so that it feels like the whole thing is always about to slide off into the back yard. There is no air conditioning, and the heat comes from a gas furnace with one of those metal grills on the floor. The wiring is certifiably antique. There’s a black circle melted into the living room carpet dating back to 1990 when a short-term resident named Olivia set down a hot pan full of popcorn to answer the phone. The toilet quit flushing early on, and somebody rigged up a pulley system that somehow incorporated a metal “4.” The toilet was fixed, but the 4 remains, hanging ceremoniously above the toilet. Living at 1060, 1992-93: I remember great conversations, the smell of coffee, musical instruments crammed into every corner, instrument cables criss-crossing the floor. The bushes in front grew almost as tall as the weeds in the back yard. Ed smoking his pipe; Michael playing his drums; a brief obsession with manual typewriters. The feeling of belonging in a town that comes with having your own front porch and your own yard. I remember the humongous old answering machine from J&J, and the progressively weirder outgoing messages Ed would make on his four-track.

Fall quarter I had the cold room, but then winter came and it was time to switch rooms, and I ended up in the walk-through room. Having a girlfriend made this a not-so-fun situation, even though Ed had built a little wall to screen off the bed from passers-through. I remember one night not long after I’d asked Vivian, my girlfriend, to marry me. I stopped Tom as he was walking through my room (it was the walk-through room) on the way to his room and asked him if he would be my best man. He was a little bit overcome, one of the few times I’ve ever seen him get that way. I also remember that winter, when Nyquil briefly became all the rage in 1060. Any evening before bedtime you could stop by and at least two of the residents would be sipping on Nyquil like it was some fine cognac. That same winter we decided to save money by not running the heat and wearing our winter clothes inside. I can remember walking in and finding Ed bundled up and playing bass wearing gloves with the fingers cut out. And a snowstorm, walking the streets of the shut-down town, and then returning to dry our socks on the grill of the heater.

I moved out when I got married in 1993. Aaron took my place. Ed was still there then, and Tom and Michael. Eventually Michael moved to Japan, and Ed moved to Chicago. Ed Sperr moved in. Now there were only three living there. The 1060ians were getting older. Graduating, getting real jobs. They could afford to split the rent only three ways.

A year later Vivian and I moved away for grad school. Ed Sperr moved to South Carolina, and Jen took his place. In 1995, Tom got his own apartment. Clint moved in. When Jen moved to an apartment, Andrea took her place. Aaron was still there. Vivian and I drove back to Athens every chance we got, and the first place we headed was 1060. We’d cram a week’s worth of living into a weekend, and then when it was time to go Vivian would cry as our beloved Athens, and 1060, faded into the distance.

When I think of 1060, I think of the artifacts, those random items that belong more to the house than to any of its residents. People keep moving in and out, but the stuff doesn’t go anywhere.

The 4 over the toilet, of course. Above the fireplace (non-working) was a blown-up Xerox of Elizabeth Fraser (of the Cocteau Twins), made out of four sheets of paper taped together, which stayed there for 10 years. For at least a year, a big branch sat in one corner of the living room. There was a collection of lamps that outlasted any of the residents who might have brought them in there and a battered go-go cage in the back yard, discarded by the Rockfish Palace after it closed and rescued by Tom and me. A giant papier-maché Paul McCartney head made for Halloween one year stuck around in one corner of the house for five or six years before finally collapsing. The porch penguins. The electric organ by the front door that no one knows how it got there.

Vivian and I returned to Athens a couple years later, and if 1060 had been open, maybe we would have taken it. But of course it was occupied. Aaron was still living there, and I think at this point Andrea had moved out and Johnson was living there. When Johnson moved out, Rob moved in. Then it was 1998. Mine and Vivian’s fifth anniversary rolled around, and it was decided 1060 was the place to throw our party. For the occasion, I got in touch with a bunch of former 1060ians – Ed, Michael, Johnson – who used to play in a band called Gamut. They’d played our wedding reception and broken up soon after. Michael hadn’t played drums in years. But I convinced them to reunite for one show, at the fifth anniversary party. Great music was made. Tender words were spoken. A good bit of booze was consumed.

The Stories

When I think of 1060, I also think of the stories. A lot of these I don’t know where to place in time, or if they even in fact happened in the way that I remember them. The first time I went back to visit after I left Athens, I went straight to 1060. When Tom answered the door, something was not right – something about his hair. Then he reached up and pulled his hair off his head. Turns out he’d shaved his head and made a wig out of his hair. It was decided then that we were all going to shave our heads and so we did – I and the other 1060 residents at the time – Johnson and Aaron. Then we put on green clay facial masks and walked around 1060 like aliens.

The bathroom was always nasty and one day it reached the breaking point. Jen was in the shower when a big patch of mold detached itself from the ceiling and fell on her head. Another time some friends came from out of town and we wanted to take them to see 1060, so we piled in the back of somebody’s truck, most of us drunk, and drove over there, spilled out of the truck and barged into 1060 with a great deal of fanfare. We found two of the current residents (who shall remain nameless) sitting quietly on the back porch and immediately descended upon them with our madness. “Sorry to barge in, but that’s the way it goes when you live at 1060,” I remember saying. One of the residents got up and disappeared into his room. I asked what was up with him. Well it turns out they’d dropped acid about an hour before we got there. We changed the course of their evening in a dramatic fashion. That’s what happens when you live at 1060.

Vivian and I didn’t make it to our sixth anniversary. It was ’99 when we split up. 1060 was down to two residents now: Aaron and Alex. The house had calmed down a little. You weren’t as likely to run into folks, but it was still okay to stop by anytime you wanted, sit on the porch, smoke a cigarette and try to figure out what the hell is going on with your life. The grass was more likely to be cut, the bushes trimmed. We were veterans of the neighborhood by now, and even were known to complain when the college kids down the street played music until the wee hours.

Later that year, Aaron finally moved out. He’d been threatening to do so for a couple years, but he was having difficulty prying himself away. When he finally did it was certainly the end of an era: he’d been there eight years. But Dave and Roxanne, good friends and bandmates of Johnson, took his place. And 1060 continued.

When I think of 1060, I sometimes think of parties. It wasn’t a “party house.” But that doesn’t mean 1060 didn’t occasionally throw down. There was the mead party when Aaron busted out a batch of mead he’d been brewing for a year and a bunch of Japanese people showed up (Jen was taking Japanese at the time) and quickly got trashed. I stumbled upon Johnson in the kitchen, surrounded by a group of confused-looking Japanese kids whom he was trying to get high. They weren’t quite sure what was going on. Johnson held the bowl out to one of them, crouched down for emphasis: “Smoooke the poooot, maaaan!” Then there was the one big blowout party where every townie in Athens showed up. A drum kit, keyboard, guitar, bass, and mic were set out and everybody who wanted to got a chance to play. The music lasted all night. And there were emotional gatherings like the fifth anniversary party, or like Vivian’s going away party before she left for New York, or the Christmas parties that got us all back together for one night, former residents and friends of 1060, living far-flung lives. Plenty of potlucks with amazing food that always managed to feed everybody. There was the Y2K brunch, where we listened to the news as Tokyo entered the new millennium and, fortunately or unfortunately, nothing happened: the world as we knew it continued to exist.

The End Is Near?

In the year 2000, we nearly lost 1060. Alex got engaged and was moving in with his girlfriend. Dave and Roxanne found their own house. No one else needed a place. It seemed strange, the idea of giving the keys back to the landlord: having to clear the place out and do a move-out inspection. There were pictures on the refrigerator dating back eight years, stuff on the windowsill over the sink that hadn’t moved since 1990. But at the last minute, Dave found some friends, Ben and Allison, who needed a place, and handed it off to them.

It was weird because I didn’t really know Ben and Allison before they moved into 1060. I soon got to know them, and Dan, who moved in with them for a little while. But still, I didn’t feel comfortable dropping by unannounced, let alone walking in without knocking. It seemed like something was missing. But maybe it was time to let go, I told myself. 1060 couldn’t stay in the family forever.

I can’t think of 1060 without thinking of music. I heard it on the stereo. In the early days it was the Cocteau Twins, Cure, Smiths, Joy Division. Then later Aaron always had something new he wanted me to hear. 1060 was where I first heard Stereolab and Cat Power. Then there was the music practiced and performed: The Dalloways, Gamut, FableFactory, and now the Smith’s tribute band Big Mouth, just to name a few off the top of my head. And the music recorded: Ed’s 4-track project called the Freebooters. FableFactory, Elf Power, and The Visitations all recorded stuff there that later ended up on records. And music lived: people living there together and trading ideas, starting bands. I count at least 11 musicians who’ve lived at 1060 since I’ve come to know the place.

This brings us up to last year. Vivian was back after two years in art school in New York. New York had been good but tough, and she came back to Georgia looking for something comfortable and familiar. She was living in Atlanta with her sister, trying to decide what to do with her life, when she heard from Aaron that Ben and Allison were moving to New York. 1060 would be available. Alex, meanwhile, split up with his wife and was also looking for something familiar and comfortable. That settled it. Alex became the first two-time resident; and Vivian, after 12 years as an honorary 1060ian, finally became an actual rent-paying citizen.

I guess it wasn’t time to let go. Not just yet. These days, I hang out at 1060 as much now as I ever have. I’m heading over there tonight, actually, to look at some old 1060 photos Vivian dug up for me. I was trying to explain 1060 the other day to a friend whose never been to Athens. I can go over to my ex-wife’s house and walk in the door without knocking, I said. It’s that kind of place.

Vivian and Alex have pretty much decided they’re moving out in the spring, when their lease runs out, and we don’t know what happens then. If I didn’t own my own house, I’d seriously consider moving back in. Though maybe then it really will be time to let go, say good-bye to 1060, maybe drive my kids by there one day, if I ever have kids, stop the car and snap a photo.

Then again, maybe someone else will take it over.

To Our Friend

So, 1060. The sound of the words is like the sound of a dear friend’s name, or the sound of the town where I live, Athens. It makes me think of my friends, and the unspoken pact we’ve made by being a part of that household. 1060. More than a house, but no more than a house. Just a house that does a really good job of being a house, a house that is as loyal to us as we are to it. Like a good dog. No, like a great dog.

The 1060 in my mind is not a literal place, but an idea, something suspended in time. The branch is still up there in the corner of the room, Elizabeth Fraser is taped to the wall, the 4 is hanging over the toilet; instrument cables, draftiness, music, the smell of coffee. Everyone who’s ever lived there – whether or not they paid rent – is there all the time for me, a little bit. The mold is falling off the bathroom ceiling on a shrieking Jen. The answering machine is going off and someone is being confused or delighted. Friends are sitting in the living room making music or standing in the kitchen, talking. They are on the front porch, smoking or watching the world go by. People are alone in their rooms, pursuing their visions. There is a warmth that doesn’t go away even in the dead of winter with the heat turned off to save money. It is the house itself, the collection of rooms where all this takes place, the way it looks from the street when you’re walking to the door, knowing that you don’t have to knock: knowing that whoever is inside, even if no one’s inside, you’re going to feel welcome.