Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Peace. Quiet. Tranquility. A Bedroom! Heaven.

I want to order in dinner every night. I want to buy all of my groceries online. I want to sit on my couch, look out of the glass door that leads to our deck at the clear blue sky, and listen to absolutely nothing. I never want to leave this place. My new home. Are you ready for this?


Yes, it really is. Before I moved to New York City, I wouldn't have dared live in something so small. But now, this place is the grandest, most luxiurious, most spacious living arrangement I could ever want.

And who needs all this stuff? We still have too much stuff. I could do without three-fourths of it. OK, maybe half. But the point is, how and why did we ever live with so much stuff? It's so cumbersome and stationary. It's almost slavery. When I got married, I registered for a bunch of stuff, and thankfully then but unfortunately now, we got alot of it. I remember how stressful it was to pick it all out. I had no idea what to pick. Now I wish I hadn't picked out anything at all and just bought a few plastic plates and bowls and cups from Target.

We walked over to our old apartment today to do a little cleaning before turning in our keys. I couldn't wait to get out of there. The place that had been my home for five months was nothing to me. I resented it. Anger. Disgust. Frusteration. But no attachment. No wistful nostalgia or fond goodbyes. I shut the door with a Good Riddance and never looked back.

But now, I am at peace. I feel like we've just woken up from a dream. More like we just finished a five-month marathon and are sitting at the finish line, drinking the most refreshing bottle of the purest water and breathing in the crisp, clean air. Long, slow breaths of home and health and strength, overcoming strength. Perseverence. Gratitude. Rest.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

I'm Gonna Be a Part of It...

Most of you know the saga, what has transpired since we've arrived here in NYC. And through it all, I've resented my landlord. I see him as a ganuf, (thanks Super Churchlady.), which is a Yiddish term meaning "thief, dishonest person, scoundrel." In my mind, all of this has been his fault. And really, it is. But after reading yesterday's article, I realized a few things. Now what I realize is probably common sense to either those who've lived here for a certain amount of time, or to those who are just older and wiser, or just wiser.

#1) There's really no such thing as NORMAL is New York City, except if you have a whole heck of alot of money. Then you just buy normal. But if you don't have a lot of money, you are basically S.O.L. Either you are at the mercy of those who have a lot of money, or live outside of Manhattan and then you can have close to normal again. But here in Manhattan, it helps to be rich.

#2) I think this going around the permits and C.O. thing happens often in the city. The Brooklyn building had been happily inhabited for ten years, and not once did anyone raise objection, until this past week, when for some reason the Department of Buildings chose that day out of all days to evict the tenants. So if our building had been completed when we moved in, no one would have filed complaints with the DOB, and we would have been happy neighbors...for a while at least. Buildings are inspected once a year, it seems, so our eviction might have happened eventually.

#3) Who's really the bad guy in these situations? Did the DOB really have to evict those tenants? On the coldest day we've had. (And it really was the coldest. I had to stand in a line outside for an audition. It was painful.) They give everyone one day to get out? And the tenants weren't at fault. They did nothing. Why couldn't the DOB just work with whoever to fix the problems?

#4) My landlord may be a ganuf, but maybe he's not the bastard that I've thought him to be. For one, he did allow us to stay down the hall, a bigger apartment for the same price. Two, if it's common to take shortcuts, then he did a common thing, and had a run of bad luck at it. Or made a bad decision to move people in too soon, because he's a ganuf. Still, he knew our line of apartments did not meet fire code. That's a big deal. That's not something that a man who owns 8 buildings in Manhattan doesn't know.

All in all, for some reason that article made me forgive my landlord. There must be a war that goes on between landlords and government officials, and sometimes the tenants get the brunt of it. It's unfair. But my story doesn't seem that bad after I read their story. And unfair might just be what we have to endure for a while. It's alright.

If you can MAKE it here, you can make it..(Bum Bum) ANYWHERE, its up to YOU....New York, Ne-ew YORK!!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

I'm Packing, Again...

because we're moving (but staying in NYC), again...and I can't wait. I can't wait because our electric bill is out of this world expensive because we have an electric heater, rather than radiators like most of NYC. I can't wait because those guys jack hammering and pounding outside my window don't allow me my rightful peace and quiet. (The workers are back to it, finishing the basement after the "Stop Work Order" was removed. The "Stop Work Order" was placed on our landlord because of all the fire code violations. We hear he's planning on building an entire 6th floor now. Our building is 5 floors. He's planning on creating an entire 6th floor while people live here.)

I can't wait because we'll have TWO closets with even more storage ABOVE the two closets. And I mean big closets. AND storage above the kitchen where we're convinced someone could sleep. Who? Cachinnator thinks we should rent it out to Forky. I can't wait because we'll have a deck. I can't wait because things will be normal. PLEASE let things be normal.

Mostly, I can't wait because we won't be giving rent to a greedy, unfeeling, (fill in the Yiddish term) of a landlord who insists it's fair to move us BACK into the smaller apartment when he FIXES it to meet FIRE CODE. We get vacated because his lousy renovations provide us a death trap for a living space, uprooted from the beginnings of a routine LIFE, to the apartment down the hall where the only way our entertainment center will fit is to put it in front of the only window...see the irony here?...and he plans on just moving us right back over there like it's no skin off our back. Like that's only fair. That's only fair, my foot.

We're out. OUT. Please, let things be normal.

That was what I wrote yesterday but didn't post. Here's what I read to day in "AM New York".


The 200 residents of a Williamsburg (Brooklyn) loft building fire officials booted from their homes Monday left their apartments - bags, boxes and containers in hand - not knowing when they would be allowed back.

While the residents were evicted because of a fire code violation, the incident revealed an even greater problem. The building, where some have lived for years, does not have a Certificate of Occupancy that would allow for residency. Fixing the fire hazard and obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy may be a lengthy process.

A police officer on the scene yesterday making sure everyone cleared out told the residents of 475 Kent Ave. that if they had a viable commercial enterprise in the building they would likely be able to return in a few days. But those who were strictly residents however, "should probably look for another place."

A spokeswoman for the City Department of Buildings, which issues Certificates of Occupancy, yesterday outlined some of the steps that need to be taken before residents can return. They not only include addressing the fire hazards, but also require the owner to retain a licensed architect or engineer "to bring the building into compliance," Kate Lindquist, buildings spokeswoman, said in an e-mail response.

It was unclear yesterday when the city first realized that legal occupancy was not allowed in the building. Lindquist turned down a request for a phone interview. The building co-owner, Nachman Brach, did not return calls.

Fire officials ordered tenants to leave Sunday evening after finding out that the grain storage for a basement matzo factory owned by Brach was improperly stored and "an explosive hazard," according to vacate order slips placed on each door.

"We addressed an immediate life hazard, that's why steps were taken to vacate the premises," said Jim Long, a fire department spokesman.

Shocked tenants had six hours to gather their things and find a place to stay on a bitterly cold day that brought wind chills around zero degrees. Some grabbed just enough to get by for a few days on the couches of friends. Some called moving vans and went looking for new places to live. Others could just stare vacantly ahead, unsure of what the next move was.

"This is the closest thing to an artist commune I've ever known," said Simon Arnold, 26, who lived in the building for 2½ years in a $2,000-a-month loft with soaring views of the East River. "It's like the dream just ended."

Residents will get a second and final shot today to move out belongings.

Meanwhile, the Red Cross is helping in relocation efforts. As of yesterday, only nine residents had taken the offer.

The building had once been a pasta factory, and later a cold storage warehouse. A group of artists who had been evicted from illegal loft conversions in DUMBO leased the upper floors from Brach.

Those first residents, in turn, built and rented out individual units, but the building never received the proper occupancy certificates, according to tenants. But the building had been well-lived in for a decade, with daily mail, UPS, and Fresh Direct deliveries, and residents wondered why they were given a few hours to gather their things and vacate on the coldest day of winter.

"It's not like this place was a secret," said Hagai Yardeny, 36, a seven-year resident of the building. "The fire department came by once a year to inspect. They could have given us time to fix the problems instead of forcing 200 people to relocate."

Well wha'doyou know. I have thoughts about this but will post later. For the record, our landlord didn't have the correct Certificate of Occupancy, either. If you renovate enough and change the ways of egress, you're required by law to obtain a new C.O. Before we lived here it was a "Single Occupancy Dwelling" (still not completely sure what that means) with one shared kitchen, maybe bath?, per floor. It was a run down crack house/ whore house, according to people on our block. Our landlord completely changed the place. Four studios per floor, each w/ kitchen and bath, with the nicest of amenities. Great for the block, but he didn't obtain a new C.O., and started moving people in before required permits were had and before essential LAWFUL things, such as the intercom from front door to apartment, were installed. Our line of apartments (in the center of the building) were evicted, or vacated, by the DOB for violation of fire code. The windows were too small to crawl through in case of a fire, and even if someone could crawl through, there was no fire escape outside. Instead it was a shaft-like area, enclosed by brick wall on all four sides, with the top of the shaft open to the sky, permitting light and air. (Remember this is Apartment B, which we thought was Apartment A.) We were given one day to get out.

Enough. More later.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Crossing the Street

It could be considered a mundane task, unless you live in a walking city such as New York. It then becomes a very flavorful experience with each changing of the block. There are multiple ways to cross the street in the Big Apple. With each crosswalk the proper option presents itself clearly, and choosing which way eventually becomes instinctual to the New York City walker.

I now present to you the multiple ways in which one crosses the street in New York City:

1) Follow the Rules: Do not cross the street until the crosswalk sign turns from a red hand to a white walking man. This option is best used when the traffic is heavy, and crossing the street equals death.

2) Dare the Hand: When walking up to a crosswalk and seeing that the hand blinks red, quickly walk or jog to the other side of the street before the hand becomes a solid red hand. This option is best used when the walker must make an appointment and has not the time to stand and wait for the white walking man, or if the walker is just too cold to stop walking.

3) Double Dare the Hand: Notice the solid red hand on the sign in front of you, but because there are no cars coming, jay walk. This option is the most used in New York City. The likelihood of using this option interestingly does not decrease if an NYPD patrol car or officer is in sight. In fact, the New York City walker rather enjoys staring the police officer in the face as he or she walks to the other side of the street on a red handed sign. The NYPD officer does nothing.

4) Red Traffic Walking: If heavy traffic ensues so that cars line up across the crosswalk of the intersection, and if the hand is solid red, walk across in between the idling cars! This is the most satisfying of all walks, because the walker feels that in some way he or she beats the system.

5) White Traffic Walking: If heavy traffic ensues so that cars line up across the crosswalk of the intersection, and if the sign turns to the white walking man, walk across in between the idling cars, even if it means one car gets stuck in the middle of the intersection, unable to move forward because of walkers. This is also a satisfying walk, because the walker knows he or she has every right to go first.

6) Running: If one decides to jay walk, and in turn misjudges the distance of the approaching car, run as fast as you can to the other side. This option can be the most humorous because most walkers look funny running.

7) Walk Rage: If walking at the appropriate time under a white walking man sign, and a car, most usually a yellow taxi driven by a glassy-eyed Arab, turns into you from another lane at a rapid speed, remember that you have the right of way, stop right where you are, turn with all hostility, arrogance, and spite toward the driver, and yell whatever obscenities naturally arise from the gut. A simple, "HEY!" will do, at times followed with whatever sort of gesture the walker feels comfortable giving. With this option it is important that the walker stop directly in front of the car, daring the driver to run him or her over, just daring the driver. Oh, you wanna run over me, buddy? Do it, then. I dare ya. Do it. We'll see how you feel then, is an appropriate subtext occurring within the mind while gesturing.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Homeless Man at My Audition

At least I think he was homeless. He sure seemed like he was, but how assuming of me. Because he had lots of clothes on and strange thick glasses over beady eyes and wild thinning black hair, I think he's homeless? OK, maybe not homeless, but surely crazy. He sat on a bench inside the building and stared at people, stared at me, for extremely long periods of time, periodically roaming around the room, sitting back down, staring, smiling his vacant half-smile. He was odd. But then, most actors are odd, so I first gave him the benefit of the doubt. Guess he thought there might be a part for him in "Marcy in the Galaxy," the musical. I had no idea what "Marcy in the Galaxy" was all about, save for what the casting call described. Maybe there was a crazy beady-eyed character in "Marcy in the Galaxy."

That's what I thought until I sat behind him in the audition line. It was his time to go into the room. He had given a headshot to the monitor. That's the only way he got on the line. The person before him had gone in, had sung, and had come out. She was finished, and it was his turn. But he didn't go in. He just sat there next to me as I looked at him. He looked straight ahead with his vacant expression. No book of music. He held nothing. Finally I spoke up. "I think you can go in, sir."

"Oh. Yeah."

So he went in, with no music for the accompanist to play. He shuffled in and closed the door and I waited. We all waited. We all listened.

Ten quiet seconds passed before us. We stared at the door. We heard nothing. Ten seconds, and the door opened. Beady eyes shuffled back out of the room and wandered off. Off to where, who knows?

It was my turn. I walked into the audition room and over to a stunned accompanist and a bewildered casting director. We looked at each other wide-eyed. I tried not to laugh, but I couldn't help it. I laughed. They laughed.

"I don't know what that was all about," I said.

The casting director shook his head. "I thought I was being punked or something."

I sat my music on the piano in front of the accompanist. "Well, whatever you do," she said, "it'll be better than that."

I wouldn't mind a crazy homeless man showing up at auditions more often.