Location: Park Slope, Brooklyn
Square Feet: 750
Occupant: Josh Max (singer-songwriter, Josh Max’s Outfit; owner, Rosecolored Painting) Julie James (singer, Josh Max’s Outfit; office manager, ATEC Digital Arts)
So Josh, your life perked up when you moved into this happy, affordable duplex with spiral staircase, track lights, fireplace, and bay windows. But let’s dwell for a bit on how your old apartment made you “feel like a failure,” even though your music was going great, and how it looked like a cave with stalagtites, and how you later felt an aura of tragedy which made you sit on the couch feeling like a zombie. I was paying $1950 for a really small, depressing apartment on Riverside in the 90s. Every window faced a brick wall. I had all these roommates. One was always smoking stuff. I’d be in the bathroom naked with the door shut and he’d walk in and say, Sorry, dude— like Otto, the bus driver on The Simpsons. Another roommate worked at Scores. She had been earning $10 an hour at an old people’s home serving food. One day she went to work at Scores and came home with all this cash. Now she has her own apartment. Then there was the bull dog of a woman who was really loud. I kept trying to throw her out. Finally she said okay. I gave her her security deposit back. Actually, I gave her two checks because I thought the first one might bounce. She cashed both of them. Then I got this girl who was pretty good, quiet. But she moved out after just one day’s notice. I sued her for a month’s rent. I got a court date. I got there and she was bankrupt. Julie moved in a year ago. [Julie] There was the roommate we called the Rabbit. She always ate bologna sandwiches. She began every conversation with heyyyyyyy, heyyyyy, heyyyyy.
Josh, how did you, son of writers from upstate, meet Julie from Dayton? [Josh] I advertised in a personal: imp seeks cherub. [Julie] I really don’t know what compelled me to answer. [Josh] Our first date for coffee lasted 16 hours. [Julie] I moved in and it was four people in a small dark apartment with one bathroom. [Josh] The landlord offered me a lease in ’98 at a certain price. I signed it. Three weeks later they slid a new lease under our door saying there’d been a typo, the rent was $200 more and to sign the new lease. We refused and kept sending the original rent. But the landlord didn’t cash the checks. He screamed, Where’s my money? We’re going to get you out of here. Then he sued us for $4000 in back rent and court costs but the judge sided with me and knocked it down to $700. When they began showing the apartment they were asking for $2500, $550 more. We went crazy looking for a new apartment. Close calls and no cigar. Then I heard about this apartment through a painting client. [Julie] But it took five letters of recommendation and faxes from our moms before the landlord agreed to rent to us. [Josh] It’s such a great place. Though when we moved in, we felt the gloom of the breakup of the last couple. We were here the weekend the guy was moving out. He seemed really upbeat about the whole thing. She was nowhere to be found. [Josh] I started feeling her aura of blackness. I felt hopeless and not very attractive to my mate. [Julie] Then we said, Let’s get some sage. [Josh] We lit it and ran around the apartment. It cleanses all the old energy out of your new space. [Julie] We said, Get out bad spirits. [Josh] We said, Success, love, sex, intimacy, good times.
What happened? [Julie] We’ve been hot as a tamale ever since.