Bellevue Views

Railroad apartment in tenement building

Location: East 20s
Rent: $1031.13 (rent-stabilized)
Square feet: 400
Occupant: Patrick Trettenero (director, Off-Broadway and regional theater)

Whew, you're on the fifth floor—huff, puff. I have a friend who lives high up. She says if she and her boyfriend start kissing as they're walking up the stairs, by the time they get to the top they can barely breathe from the exertion and then they're too tired to have sex. Anyway, a little birdie told me you have a farm in Ireland. I grew up all over the Midwest, but I had a great-aunt who had a farm in County Mayo. I visited her about l0 years ago. At that time, all her brothers had passed away and there were no men on the farm. My aunt had never been allowed to marry. When her mother passed away, her father pulled her out of school to care for him and her brothers. He'd scare away any men who came to call. It was very tragic. We became very close. She started to look to me as the man of the farm even though I lived 3000 miles away. When she died last year, she left me the farm.

Why don't you live in Ireland with its purple sky and crumbly cheese and a tradition of actresses like Ria Mooney who they say had 1000 expressions and who a man I knew fell in love with when he saw her in a Christmas play at the Abbey one cold winter night? It's a lovely romantic notion, but it's so desolate there. The farm goes up the side of a mountain, so it's all grass and rocks. I could only stand three or four days before I'd climb the walls.

So here you are in New York with an emerald green rug and photos of all your relatives who are policemen with big necks. To the east of your apartment is Bellevue, which housed epidemic victims in the 1700s. There was a pavilion for the insane. Down your street are the "I Love You Kathy Apartments." They got the name because that's how the developer was feeling in 1975. You wouldn't believe what I went through before this apartment. I'd been in New York about two years. I was in Soho in an illegal sublet that blew up in my face. It's a horror story of a management company throwing out an illegal tenant. That summer they threw out at least six. I took the people I sublet from to court. They had said I could sublet indefinitely.

Did you win? I got a 90-day extension before I had to move. The people were forced to share my relocation expenses. I got money back for what they overcharged me on the rent. Just under $2000 total. My lawyer was a friend and represented me for free. Otherwise, it probably would have cost in the thousands. We did this good cop­bad cop thing. He really wanted to play hardball, but I wasn't out to gouge them.

What's housing court like? The judge was so nice. She said, Are you sure you don't want more time before you have to move? Are you sure this is enough money to cover your expenses? She went over the whole agreement to make sure I understood it.

She sounds like someone in a Frank Capra movie. So what about the people from the sublet? They're in Pennsylvania. They don't like me very much now. I knew them through my friend Ted who knew this girl who was dating this guy who was the friend of the people I sublet from. When I apologized to Ted for screwing up his friendship with this girl and her boyfriend, he said, Oh, it doesn't matter. They broke up anyway.

 
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