Wednesday, January 18, 2012

1-17-12 Survival Jobs for Writer-Musicians – Starter Job #15 (Real Estate career, or moving often and well in ‘70’s NYC)

Hmmm. I knew that if I started writing, Shawn would set me straight about stuff I couldn't remember rightly. It's 'cause I feel like a lone wolf so much in life, sometimes the people who were with me melt away. . . sorry for misremembering, Shawn.

Or should I say, dismembering? Anyhoo, no harm meant. These are MY memories, and they are faulty, emotional, and probably disjointed – but hopefully fun for others to read and very therapeutic and fun for me to tap away on.

So, Shawn said after my last blog: “Lauren, that was *me* at Spring Street Bar. I was with people, said hi to you, and then, while ordering, had that encounter with the waiter and his Bulemic miming. It was hilarious. Also, remember Dojo's which you lived right above on St. Mark's Place? We were dead broke at that point and the waitress would dole out free meals in exchange for a decent tip so we wouldn't starve and she could make her rent.”

All right, guys. Since I was writing about places in the Soho area, I didn’t write about restaurants in the East Village. But yes, Dojo's was great -- I ate all the vegetarian stuff -- and I am so glad that Shawn remembered that waitress, too. Also glad he said "dead broke" and not "poor," because one is a changing state, and one is a dead weight. Clever, kindhearted waitress (but devious, of course). "When you live outside the law you must be honest. . ." a conspiracy of thieves all around in struggling NYC circles in the '70's. .

So I’ll talk a little about my real estate career in Manhattan when I moved there back then. My first place was 344 East 65th Street, between 1st and 2nd Avenues, and it really fell into my lap one night when I overheard a very brash, brassy broad talking at the bar in CBGB’s. It was Jody Jeshurin, Handsome Dick (of the Dictators) Manitoba’s girlfriend at the time. She was telling a friend how she didn’t want this “APAWtment” on 65th Street, even though it was closer than the Bronx.

“I’ll take it if you don’t want it,” I piped up. This was in ’76, and I was really tired of sofa surfing when I came to town, albeit my friends were kindhearted and helpful (my boyfriend and friends like Tina and Chris of T-Heads). I was ready to transfer schools anyway, because SUNY Purch was too far from the city. The rent was $165 per month for a small one-bedroom.

So, I moved in to a railroad flat in an upper East side tenement, a rear apartment on the 2nd floor that didn’t get much light, but if I’d been a nightclubber and slept all day it would have been great. But no, I was a struggling depressive college student and writer who worked daylight hours and needed whatever little sunlight that trickled into my south-facing rear bedroom, where I worked on a typewriter at a desk that folded down from my tall oakwood art deco style secretary. I took baths in the kitchen (great tub-- covered with a blue-painted slab of plywood when not being used for bathing), lived alone, and dreamed of making music downtown -- and writing songs.

From there, I figured a year later that uptown was too far to go after gigs & socializing downtown. After pounding the pavement and looking at the Voice apartment for rent ads, I found a little fourth floor walkup in a Mott Street tenement just south of Houston (242 Mott). Another small one bedroom in a tenement, probably around $175 per month.

Lower East Side, there I went: there I left when a very large, sewery-smelling rat showed up on top of my toilet seat (gnawed a big hunk of pumperninkel bread atop my fridge!) one rotten morning. Ugh! I was so freaked out, I threw on clothes and ran down the stairs to my landlord’s real estate office a few doors down. These guys looked like real guidos and acted phlegmatically no matter what.

“There’s a huge rat!!”

“So?” The smooth faced thirty-something with dark hair and eyes regarded me, bored. His two other pals sat at their desks, quietly.

“I, I, I – I need to leave. I’m leaving my apartment.”

“Oh, so you’re breakin’ your lease? You don’t break your lease, are you crazy? Do you know who you’re dealing with here?”

“I don’t care. There’s a rat! I’ve got to leave. Take your apartment back!”

I don’t remember what else they said, but I used every shred of righteous anger I could muster and cancelled my lease then and there. I’m sure they laughed at me after I left their office. Did I get my deposit back? I probably fought for it, but don’t remember if I did.

That apartment had a very depressing vibe, anyway.

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