I’m walking home down California Street, combing the outer Avenues of the cities’ Richmond District. This is a little out of my way; not too bad, only two blocks; but my darkest curiosity has got the best of me in recent days.
This ramshackle house with plywood covering every window and the door once was a bastion of the Stygian depths reincarnated here on Earth: the fabled Church of Satan.
I pull the reason for this out of my pocket; a cut out and folded article from the Sunday San Francisco chronicle. I check the address in the article and look up at the numbers on the houses.
Just a few more blocks to go.
In another five minutes I am there. To say I am underwhelmed would be to overstate the case. This ramshackle house with plywood covering every window and the door once was a bastion of the Stygian depths reincarnated here on Earth: the fabled Church of Satan.
Honestly there are scarier looking houses on Alamo Square. Hard to believe this place’s foundations reach all the way to hell. It’s tiny, not even real, a faux Victorian trailer tipped on its side.
I remember long drawn out debates with supposed know-it-all punk rockers when I lived back in Oakland as to where it’s real location was. Everybody was either wrong or lying.
Standing here, I remember the Rolling Stone article I read about Marilyn Manson visiting here in 1994, indoctrinated into the church by an old but still authoritative Anton LaVey, the fabled “Black Pope,” who gave the over realized rock-star the mantel of “Reverend.” I wonder if LaVey regaled his guest with stories of banging Marilyn Monroe.
I fold the article back up in my pocket and wonder why I thought it was all such a big deal. I walk away thinking it might be a lot more interesting to go the café and get a bagel and coffee. I doubt I will come back here.
Damn, the gates are chained. The maintenance crew remembered the padlock. Sometimes they forget. Maybe they’ll be back tomorrow. Maybe they’ll forget tomorrow. Sometimes they do.
Still someone skinny might be able to slip between the gates, maybe some cute, anorexic Goth girl who used to lounge in the basement, on the threshold with its stygian pall as the e-brochure likes to say. I know because I looked it up on the internet. The Church still operates as a website.
Penitentiary barbwire blossoms off the top of the barricade. No apparent way in...(at least not for me.) That wasn’t there last month. Have some of the contractors been noticing a creepy hippy hanging around?
Perhaps it was much more imposing in the days when it stood alone. Perhaps it was more imposing in Monroe’s day than in Manson’s; looking more like a purported church with its single A-Frame attic; the whole spectacle painted completely in black and purple.
Perhaps it was more evil when it rose over smaller buildings or even empty lots.
Perhaps when it was a glamorous boarding home for Bell House refugees and transients and a N’awlins hoodoo outlaw, ruling the depraved goings on here with an iron fist, wanting only to seed a little paradise for her tribe. Perhaps before it was squeezed on either side by mid-seventies apartment buildings, dwarfing it at three stories and three times the market value. Perhaps the San Francisco real estate market is a far more diabolical entity than the devil.
Early September 2001
I’ve walked by the old dilapidation for many days now, but tonight…this night of all nights, I swear I can see a light on inside the attic, but the gates are still padlocked. Probably a squatter who snuck between the gates, found a way through the back, or ... the scaffolding and YES, that’s it! If someone could get up on the scaffolding fronting the apartments next door, and then find a way to scale down into the yard, and it looks like someone thin enough could squeeze their way toward a back door or storm cellar; what would I see there?
Upside down crosses?
The sigel of Baphomet…Set on the walls?
(I kill myself.)
A bed of nails?
A goat’s carcass?
Gnawed human bone?
Stale lion and leopard turds? Dried blood in the shape of a pentagram full of cum stains?
Perhaps promising photos of celebrities? Linda Blair’s career? Perhaps Sammy Davis Jr.wearing a red cape and red horns?
Dispatches from Atlantis #11 continues...