I went there a few years ago, but didn’t dare to ask for a visit,… it is indeed a weird thing to ask people you have never met: ‘Can I enter your house and visit the place because someone died of two stabbed wounds there 8 years ago?’
Nevertheless, two weekends in a row, Brandon Ferguson of the OC Weekly and I tried to enter the house where Elliott Smith died, but we were unfortunately not successful!
The bungalow is a unit, part of a four-unit complex, located up in the hills of Echo Park, with a really nice view of downtown Los Angeles. The first time we went there, we entered the propriety and even walked to the back unit where Elliott Smith and Jennifer Chiba used to live. There was nobody home but we talked to a tenant living in another unit, who told us he did not know very well the people living there. He also said he was not home on October 21st 2003, the day the incident happened, but knew Jennifer Chiba and was even a friend of hers. He also, without being asked, mentioned Gil Reyes’ movie ‘Searching for Elliott Smith’, saying: ‘Have you seen the movie? It’s very good, Jennifer is in it!’
Coincidentally enough, just three days later, Brandon got a visit from Gil Reyes, who gave him a copy of his movie.
The following weekend we tried again and met this time the building owner who was cleaning up the alley. Without even mentioning Elliott’s name, he immediately understood why we were here and looked nervous, almost annoyed. And yes, I can comprehend him being irritated, as we probably were not the first ones trying to take a look at the house. He said he was not comfortable with us disturbing the tenants, visibly not wanting to deal with this story again as he had bought the complex a year after it happened, ‘unknowingly’. He also said he had done a lot of renovation since as it was a run-down apartment.
We also tried to talk to some neighbors living down the hill, behind the house, but they had never heard of the story despite the fact that the woman said she had lived there all her life.
I am not sure what we could have learnt from a visit in the house, especially if it has been renovated, but it was not some kind of morbid curiosity. For example, it would have been interesting to check out how far the balcony is from the kitchen sink, as J. Chiba said she saw Elliott with the knife in his chest in front of the kitchen sink and was then afraid he would jump from the balcony.
But we will continue our searching and digging…
Originally published on Rock NYC (November 21 2011)