Tuesday, November 13, 2007



Earlier we thought about some songs that would be a good fit for Rousseau in a state of hazy contemplation alone on his boat on Lake Brenne, with his 'eyes turned towards heaven.'

Now let's consider this scenario.

My girlfriend and I are looking for an apartment together. Yesterday I went to check out a listing in Boerum Hill that she had found on the wild west of real estate known as craigslist.
The building is pre-war and nestled on a quiet, inviting tree-lined block. The apartment itself was in need of some refurbishing but for the most part was amply-sized, with a view to the garden, and could comfortably accommodate a young couple looking to begin a domestic life together but who had become either too grown-up or too discriminating to live merely anywhere. My girlfriend had given me a list of questions to ask and I was instructed to take copious photographs.

The building owner, when she showed up a half hour late, was a brash, uncouth troll of a woman in a parka and large shiny silver earrings, with two sons, one grown and one infant, and father in tow. She appeared slightly out of sorts and preoccupied, but considering she was overseeing the renovation of the bottom apartment for her own occupancy while at the same time showing the one above for rental, this did not strike me as unusual.

We spoke about the place and it distinctly seemed like it might fit the idealized mold that Christina and I had in our minds for our apartment. There was a credit application fee which was exorbitant, 200$. As we talked about getting my gf to see the place after work and filing the application, a young couple descended the stairs on their way out the door and informed the owner that there was no hot water in their place, in fact, there was no hot water in the building whatsover. The owner replied that she would send the plumber to handle it, and as she moved past me in the hallway I felt a slight brush against my sleeve - I turned towards the girl on the stairwell who mouthed almost imperceptibly


It was so brief that I doubted at first whether I had seen it. But as the couple exited through the double doors the girl turned over her shoulder and, while gesturing with her hand in a cutting motion against her throat repeated


I was struck, I knew I could not ignore such an insistent and mysterious signal, one that was taking place without anyone acknowledging the fact, behind the owner's back. When the owner disappeared suddenly into the hallway closet looking for some hardware I dashed through the apartment doors and onto the street where the couple was already a few paces away.
Walking for a moment alongside the girl I said casually
-So..what's up..?
Her hurried response was
-Google the building. I can't say anymore, I could get in trouble...

I returned to the building to meet the owner again and finish our conversation, which I carried out now with only the most remote, automatic effort, so much did I want to escape and call Christina and inform her what had happened. We exchanged phone numbers again and on the sidewalk I instantly called my girlfriend and had her google the place, she instantly found a blog which was a host to a litany of complaints and lamentations from tenants, and which you can read for yourself here:


I suddenly felt that we had dodged a bullet and was laughing out loud with shock at the blog entries that she was reading to me over the phone, so fortuitous did it seem that I had had this brief, ominous encounter with one of the tenants.

The whole episode now seemed redolent of a Roman Polanski horror film, as he made a slew of them that center around urban apartment paranoia, fear of neighbors, and so on, beginning with Repulsion and culminating in Rosemary's Baby.

In honor of the horror that never arrived to us, knock on wood, I present a cut from Phillip Glass's soundtrack to the movie Candyman, entitled Candyman in the Kitchen, and I will let you play out in your own idle mind the appropriate images from DON'T LIVE HERE: THE BOERUM HILL TERROR


And should her eyes find this page, let me extend my thanks to the soul who gave the sound of warning, and that I pray her burden is soon lifted.

No comments: