When they said, “I have some sad news. Your son, Charles was found dead this morning in an apartment on Monument Avenue,” my world collapsed. At the same time, I was confused by Monument Avenue.
In Richmond, Virginia, this area is the most prestigious residential avenue, a picturesque neighborhood with million dollar row houses lined along cobblestone streets. It looks like something straight out of a movie.
For a long time, I thought he must’ve been further down that avenue in perhaps a seedier part of that street, although I’m not aware of where that might be. I just assumed if he was at an apartment where a lot of kids were using, it had to be in some seedy section.
As it turns out, it’s in the urban area right past elegant row houses. The building itself, looks pretty regal from the outside and it’s got some historical significance having been built in 1924, not long after cars started to become the norm. But apparently, it’s a nightmare inside with miserable reviews once you scroll down past the paid ads. And what I hear matches the one star reviews. It’s an old building that has not been properly maintained over the years.
So three years after Charles died, I got the nerve to go by there and just stand on the outside. I actually took this picture as I stood on the sidewalk on 1600 Monument Avenue.
I don’t know what floor he was on, which apartment is THE ONE. All I know is that he hated it and it was nasty. He expresses how much he hated it in a rap song, Mr. Dopeman— the last song he wrote just days before he killed himself.
I have no idea if I’ll ever get the urge to go inside. Quite frankly I don’t really want to. Not now anyway.