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09.21.11

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Phaedra

Crash Landing

My experience with AirBnB

By Daedalus Howell


AirBnB, the online service that connects "people who have space to spare with those who are looking for a place to stay," had a wee kerfuffle in July when the San Francisco Chronicle reported that a blogger dubbed "EJ" had posted that her home was burglarized, vandalized and "thoroughly trashed" by a visiting AirBnB user. This came to light (and was substantiated by the reporter using police records) while the San Francisco-based company was in a financing round that would later close at $112 million, and some alleged that EJ was part of a conspiracy—led by the hotel industry—to discredit AirBnB in an attempt to diminish its funding.

He wasn't—it was just the predictable result of unwittingly renting your house to crackheads.

I'm neither conspirator nor crackhead, I'm just a cheap-ass. Fifty dollars to stay at "The Circle," known in the "LA artist community as one of the most relaxing hangout spots on the west side," looked ideal. After I ponied up the credit card and received the confirmation tagged "feel embraced," my crunchy, circa '70s inner child was delighted.

It was in a subsequent email, however, that I learned that Sanni, my host, would be out of town but "Kevin, Debbi and Micah" would be there. In B-movies, this is where the orchestra-spike foreshadows the horror to come, as if the reference to Dante's Inferno in the joint's name wasn't enough.

The Circle was in a tract-home neighborhood in the heart of Marina Del Rey, California. Micah was to meet me at 7pm, but I was delayed—we finally connected at 11pm. He was a lean, beachy-type of the sort who surf the cultural backwash of music festivals. If Lebowski had a nephew, this was him. Odd as it was prowling a stranger's backyard for a detached unit, I found my room and I bedded down. Then came the acoustic guitar.

The music swelled amidst cackling voices, forming a kind of sonic menace one can only call Straw Dogs-unplugged. At 3:18am, I finally snapped and texted Debbi, whose number I gleaned from an email: "Who the hell do I ask to shut these people the fuck up?"

She replied, "Micah . . . I'm so sorry. Will try to reach him."

"It's just been incredible. . . Guitar, harmonica, someone complaining about having lost their 'bag of joy.' . ."

"I'm really sorry. . . I don't know what to say! I tried to reach him now but he didn't answer."

When she dialed Micah, she had dialed me instead. I answered and received an earful of vitriol meant for The Dude 2.0. Between expletives, I explained that I wasn't Micah. "Then pass the phone to him," she insisted. I hung up.

At AirheadBnB, you get what you pay for.


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