Railroad Apartment


Location Greenpoint

Rent $900/mo. (market)

Square feet 500

Occupant David Latimer (magazine publisher: The Thresher, RES, Fringe, etc.)

How is it living near Sharkey’s Driving School? More importantly, I’m living near the Slovakian Men’s Club—$2 beer, but there’s no one Slovakian. They all died. It’s pretty much Irish. Annual membership is $10. I’m the youngest member, 46. You have to be sponsored. My sponsor was a guy at the end of the bar, home from Desert Storm. He said, I’ll sponsor ‘im. Then I had to be approved by the president. He said, No shenanigans. I moved to New York in ’95 from San Francisco.

Where you were the owner of the famous Buster’s Newsstand and founder of the hilarious The Nose. Everyone’s still laughing at issue no. 3. Ha-ha. We operated many magazines out of my apartment there, a converted grocery near the Fairmont hotel. We had a trapeze. Why not, there was a 15-foot ceiling. When I came here, I got this place through a Polish real estate agent for $600. They’ve raised the rent $100 a year. They never fix anything. That’s why I don’t have doorknobs.

How about that circus wagon you used to live in? Circus trailers are well designed, like a yacht cabin. I was a producer for Circus Vargas when I was 22. I ordered hay for the elephants, paid off the police. I knew Simone the Chimp Handler, Wally the Bear Handler. He wore a cossack outfit. Simone was a man from Argentina. He and Wally were lovers, though they were married to twin high-wire performers and had children. Nuns traveled with us, too. There’s an order of the Catholic Church dedicated to ministering to the spiritual needs of circus performers—well, travelers—and the nuns ran the popcorn concession. They had their trailer and wore a modified sports habit. The circus years were after I came home from my mission in Japan. I was raised a Mormon in Montana. I lived with eight missionaries in different cities in Japan, small awful apartments, one with rats so bad. The apartments doubled as a church and English-language school. That’s how we got people interested. We’d go door to door, which was very ineffective in Japan. You knock and they call through the door, My ears are painted on. Or my favorite was, No one is here. After Japan, I lived at my grandmother’s house in Salt Lake City—a close-knit Mormon community, cottonwood trees, like a fairy-tale house. My grandpa chewed tobacco. He had to sleep in the garage. When they came to Utah—he was a teamster—he traded a lot of the land he owned for horses. My grandmother was furious.

So now you’re sitting in this house with gray and pink siding near a park where you said the Salvadorans play volleyball, Colombians play baseball, a group of men from Poland drink, and young attractive couples lie around on top of their dogs. Don’t you feel far away from all the places you’ve been? I’m not really connected with this neighborhood. When I first moved, I was always in the East Village—bars, restaurants. There is an age difference in Williamsburg between myself and most of the young bar patrons. I haven’t really connected the way I did in San Francisco. Also, I work more here. I mean, where’s the party? I bought a house recently. I’m fixing it up. It’s in Spokane. I don’t know anyone there. I got the house on the Internet. It’s sort of weird, but like 20 years ago I was driving through Moses Lake, Washington, and I got this impression I should move there someday. Last year I went to Moses Lake, but I couldn’t figure out what I was doing there. When I came back, I started looking on the Internet. This house in Spokane came up. I bought a house in Denver a few years ago, one in Utah, too, near my family.

Are you laundering money? No! It’s just that I can’t afford a house in New York. The way I look at it, I’m going to Spokane so I can figure out what I’m supposed to be doing in Moses Lake.

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