One-Bedroom Co-Op In 1898 Tenement


Location West Village

Price $145,000 (2000) ($465.22 maintenance/month)

Square feet 325

Occupant Andrew Vesselinovitch

(director, Bicycle Program, NYC Department of Transportation)

A friend said that you booted out the 20-some-year co-op board president by unifying the tenants and taking the job yourself. Like Evita or something. I wanted to improve the building. Here’s the guest room.

The thin little bed is like the baby bear one in the “Three Bears.” The chipped, peeling bookcase looks like it’s from an old kindergarten. I love things made by unschooled people.

A friend said you’re overeducated. I have a J.D., though I’ve never practiced law, and a master’s in city planning. That brings me to a degree that I hope to start next year, in urban design.

This bedroom light is so orangey-pink, yet dark, mysterious. One bulb is red, another white. The walls are lavender. The ceiling is a deep, dark blue. A dark ceiling does two conflicting things. It can compress a room and make it more comfortable to me—I like small spaces and being enclosed. On the other hand, it can open up a room—looking at the ceiling is like looking at the night sky.

Hey, turn the light back on. I can’t find my notebook. Did you grow up in a small space? No, in a large 1920s house in South Shore, Chicago. I was born in 1964. Now my mother lives on Walton near the Drake Hotel in Chicago.

My mother used to live a few doors down! How funny that we’re sitting in this little bedroom in Greenwich Village thinking of that one street, so far away. My family is Serbian. My parents were medical researchers at the University of Chicago. They left Yugoslavia in the early 1950s. My mother was harassed by the police because my grandfather was identified as an enemy of the people. He was a royalist.

You have on sparkling silver toenail polish. That’s leftover from the Folsom Street Fair in San Francisco. I was just visiting. I lived there for 12 years and moved here three years ago. I went to college in Philadelphia. I wanted to go to New York. My parents said, “You shouldn’t go to New York.” It was homophobia on their part. Either I believed them or didn’t want to test them.

Look at the carved wood seahorse on the overhang of your shower in the kitchen. Did you ever see Painlevé’s 1934 film of the male seahorse giving birth? You know, you look like Pee-wee Herman. When I’m on my bike especially.

Were you nervous buying something so quickly after moving here. [Pause] You just swallowed. You’d be a fool not to buy. This apartment, without even considering the tax benefits, is monthly a few dollars less than the cheapest rental that I saw in ’99. I could probably find something a little cheaper today. I’m a bit like Scarlett O’Hara’s father—land is the only thing worth dying for. [We cover more topics.] My sister is chief dental officer of the U.S. . . . Today, I got an anti-impotence seat for my bicycle, with the channel cut out. Older seats may cut off circulation to the penis. But whether you have a penis or a vagina, the new seats put the weight on the hipbone.

Let’s see your secret bed in the living room hidden behind a purple velvet curtain. Ahhhhhhh . . . It’s a Murphy bed. I had it attached to the floor. I went to the Murphy Bed Center on 23rd. The new ones are usually in cabinets.

When you flip the bed down, a sign is revealed: “Amateur/All Male/Bondage.” There’s so much going on. James Taylor once lived here? That’s what the realtor said. A friend sent me a clipping. James Taylor and his fiancée rented two houses in Lenox. He was quoted: “We thought we’d start with chickens and move on to children.”