This Old Crack House

Good afternoon everyone. We are on location in Detroit, Michigan to kick off our latest project. But before we start out, I need to explain to our viewers at home why this is going to be one of the most unique projects ever attempted. Our broadcast affiliate, just like any other television network, is required to comply with FCC regulations to incorporate anti-drug messages into the station’s programming. While most channels simply agree to run a certain number of approved commercials every month, the Public Broadcasting Service doesn’t have traditional commercial breaks. After countless meetings with lawyers on both sides, an agreement was made to produce a special anti-drug episode of our home improvement series. To make this project even more special, we have assembled an All-Star PBS team. In addition to my usual crew, Dean Johnson and Robin Hartyl put their “Hometime” plans on hold and flew in from Minnesota. Norm Abrams is ready to help out in the New Yankee Workshop. My name is Steve Thomas, and welcome to “This Old Crack House.”

Steve: I’m standing in front of our next project– a crack house in Detroit, Michigan. Just looking around here, Tom, I see a lot of unique challenges.

Tom: Right you are, Steve. First of all, this is going to be a scheduling nightmare. While we usually put in a lot of long nights to get a project like this finished on time, we saw the condition of the neighborhood, and the entire crew agreed to stop work at dusk each day and high-tail it back to the Holiday Inn.

Steve: And that’s thirty-seven miles away!

Tom: Yes, it is, but we feel it’s a necessary precaution.

Steve: Now the situation with our homeowner is quite unique. Grace Smith is an eighty-five year old retired school teacher. It turns out that the crack heads broke into her house when she was visiting her grandchildren in the suburbs. Now she is too ashamed to tell anyone, so she just spends most of her time in a dilapidated garage at the back of the property. We will be taking with Grace a little later, but first, Tom, what is the condition of the house?

Tom: Well Steve, I hate to tell you this, but the situation doesn’t look too good. I went down into the basement to see what was going on, and it wasn’t pretty. First of all, I discovered what I believe to be a decomposing body near the hot water heater. And, more importantly, the crawl space lacks adequate ventilation. Over time, this has caused the floor joists to rot. Before we do anything on the main floor, we are going to have to reinforce the sub floor.

Steve: And what about the body?

Tom: Well, it doesn’t pose any structural issues, so I think we will be better off leaving it alone. Maybe, if the budget allows, we could cover it up with some scrap plastic to keep the rodents away.

Steve: Tom, you know as well as I do that on a project like this, we always seem to run into these kinds of issues. But let’s take a moment right now to see what Norm Abrams has got going for us in his workshop.

Norm: Thanks Steve. I’m sorry I couldn’t be out there to see all that urban decay personally. I did get some measurements of the crack house and I have acquired the materials for a new carpentry project. But before we start any work, we need to take a minute to talk about safety. Remember to always use protective eyewear when operating power tools. Also, each project has its own unique hazards. For example, we are reminding everyone to wear steel-toed boots with a thick rubber sole at all times. We don’t want to start working only to have someone accidentally step on a syringe filled with leftover heroin and traces of possibly HIV infected blood. Just to be on the safe side, we have also made the entire landscaping crew promise, in writing, not to engage in unprotected sex with any of the crack whores in the house.

Now for the project itself– after seeing footage of the crack house, one of the first things that I noticed was the horrible condition of the methamphetamine lab. Half-empty bottles of cough syrup were on the floor, and the main work area lacked proper ventilation. I’ve designed a nice mahogany work center that will really help the occupants of the house. It contains plenty of storage for raw materials, and I’ve used a special crown molding that gives the piece a very elegant appearance. Anyone using this area will now be able to manufacture large quantities of illegal narcotics while at the same time reducing the risk of blowing themselves up in the process. If you would like to build a meth lab in your house, a set of measured drawings is available on our website.

Steve: We will check back with you later Norm. Next we have our friends Dean and Robin from “Hometime” who are working in the bathroom.

Dean: Hello, I’m Dean Johnson…

Robin: And I’m Robin Harytl. Dean and I have been working together for so long that we can even….

Dean: …finish each other’s sentences. Well, that was just a little bit of a humorous exchange we have been working on to introduce ourselves. Just to use at parties and what not, if we ever get invited to one.

Robin: We are really excited to be here. Now normally we only tape our shows in affluent suburbs of Minneapolis, so this was a quite a change for us. To help add a little class to this crack house, Dean and I are brainstorming ideas for fixing up the bathroom.

Dean: There are two things that really jumped out at us when we entered the bathroom. And, no, that doesn’t include the crack head hiding behind the door who tried to steal our video camera equipment. First of all, we thought someone started their own project when we saw some rather large holes in the drywall by the toilet.

Robin: But then we realized someone just cut out the copper pipes and, we think, traded them for crack. The other feature is a message left by one of the home’s occupants in some kind of permanent marker. It says, “Yo yo yo… Mary Katherine is my crack hoe. Anyone who touches her gets their house privileges revoked and a healthy ass whooping by me. — Anthony.”

Dean: We did think about painting over the note, but in the end we decided it gave the area more character if we just left it alone. Also, right as we were considering our options, the original author, Anthony, came into the bathroom and suggested, using gestures with his favorite baseball bat, that we not alter his message in any way whatsoever.

Robin: As far as the missing pipes, we decided to do something to keep this problem from coming back sometime in the future. Instead of repairing the damage, we have decided to remove the toilet, and cut out a small hole in the floor. This will allow the urine and feces to drop directly down into the crawlspace, and onto what appears, from up here, to be a dead body of some sort.

Dean: Now normally this would be against the building code, but given the unique situation of this house, we decided to take certain liberties with the new design.

Steve: Well, that’s all the time we have for today. In our next episode we will see what happens when Tom Silva accidentally drops acid and the schedule gets pushed back due to a surprise police raid. So keep watching as we work to put the crack back in This Old Crack House.