I’ll be 50 years old this year and I’ve never lived in a house.
OK, that’s not true:
When I first moved away from the apartment I grew up in, I shared a house with a bunch of people for three months.
We were broken into. Twice.
I wasn’t surprised.
Apartments — I just knew from personal experience — were safer than houses.
Too high to get flooded.
Too big to get swept up in Dorothy’s tornado.
Too tall for any kidnapper’s ladder.
No spooky basements or attics.
If you lived in a house, Dick and Perry would get you, or maybe the Manson Family.
The creepy covers of The Amityville Horror and Where Are the Children? — damn you, Wendell Minor — confronted me at every checkout counter.
No matter that my formative years coincided with The Towering Inferno, and the efforts of Roman Polanski, J. G. Ballard and David Cronenberg to shift the locus of horror from the small town Victorian haunted house to the 20th century urban apartment.
In the present-day real world, I can stand on the balcony of my 16th floor condo and watch my neighbors with houses dragging sewage-stained couches out onto the sidewalk for the second time this year, after one record-breaking rainfall followed another.
Along with flooded basements, homeowners have to cope with leaky roofs, clogged eavestroughs and ice dams.
I’ve never so much as shoveled a sidewalk and never plan to.
When something goes wrong — and it rarely does — I’ve always had a super or, now, a building manager to make it right.
At my last apartment, when my fridge up and died, the super — who liked me for some reason — got me a free new one in about two hours.
If we lived in a house, our beloved cat Pip would run out the door and be devoured by a coyote or get hit by a car.
Sure, my idea of porn is to hang out at “tiny house” blogs, but in my fantasy world, silent invisible elves perform all the maintenance on these dream homes.
The thing that cemented my house-phobia is the TV program Holmes on Homes.
Mike Holmes is the quintessential Canadian superstar hero:
A gentle giant who fixes other contractors’ shoddy work.
(In the interview above, Holmes talks about building a three-bedroom tree fort when he was six years old.)
I don’t know if Adam Carolla will attain “unlikely sex symbol” status the way Holmes has, but his new show, Catch a Contractor, features the same premise.
I’m what Marc Maron calls a “Carolla-tard”:
The type of superfan who listens to five-hour compilations of Carolla’s fondly-remembered stint as Dr. Drew’s LoveLine co-host.
So I’ve been looking forward to his new show on Spike TV, which makes the most of Carolla’s expertise as a master carpenter (his job — along with boxing instructor — before he went into broadcasting. Take a look at his criminally underrated romantic comedy The Hammer to see him in action in both roles.)
Something of a perfectionist with a daunting work ethic, Carolla never cuts corners on any project, and this new show is no exception.
A ton of care and effort has clearly gone into planning and producing Catch a Contractor.
Each entertaining, 30-minute episode flies briskly by, thanks to Carolla’s funny asides, his educational tips on construction and maintenance, and, of course, the spine-tingling “stings” in which bad contractors are trapped by the camera crew and then prodded to fix what they left broken.
While it’s vicariously thrilling (in a twisted way) to see how awful other people’s houses look inside, and watch the captured contractors squirm, the heart of Catch a Contractor is Carolla’s passion for helping these hapless homeowners.
Carolla’s public persona is that of a foul-mouthed, hyper-opinionated curmudgeon who doesn’t suffer fools gladly, so at first it seems odd that he’d devote a television series to giving others a helping hand.
It sounds like the type of “crunchy granola” do-gooderism he mocks on his podcast and in his books.
Yet for anyone who’s followed Carolla’s career, Catch a Contractor isn’t really a stretch.
After all, he got his start in show biz volunteering to help a total stranger — then-semi-nobody Jimmy Kimmel — train for a boxing match/publicity stunt.
True Carolla-tards also know about their favorite atheist’s devotion to the Catholic Big Brothers:
While going through a seemingly hopeless period in young adulthood, Carolla “adopted” a fatherless boy through that program, instead of just sitting around feeling sorry for himself.
And what else was LoveLine but a multi-year national project to advise and reassure (extremely) mixed up folks, one late-night phone call at a time?
So in many ways, Catch a Contractor takes advantage of more than Carolla’s unique skill set.
It also demonstrates his mensch-y passion for pragmatic problem-solving.
Idealistic progressives who say they want to “make the world a better place” could learn something from Carolla’s particular way of doing so.
Check it out!