One-Bedroom Apartment in Five-Story Building


Location Wakefield (northeast Bronx)

Rent $716.54 (rent-stabilized)

Square feet 700

Occupant Jonathan Bodrick (videographer, DMBJ Productions)

You were right! Did I tell you! Get off at Woodlawn—one side, the white yuppies go one way, the brothers go the opposite. It’s like—yeah!

This Bronx historian said, “Nothing of momentous importance has ever happened” in Wakefield. Really! The first New York baby for 2003 was born here at Our Lady of Mercy.

You said you prefer Metro-North over the subway because you get to go to Grand Central. Train stations are so much about possibility—thousands of people you’ve never met, the mystery factor, the agent X. Every day, on your way home, something magical could happen under the pale blue-green ceiling with the silvery constellations, tiny starry lights. Or maybe at the Oyster Bar, while you’re having an icy Wellfleet, a person could sit down next to you and change your life. I just stopped there today, but nothing happened. So you got this apartment four years ago. I went to the Bronx because they said, the further up you go, the more affordable it is. But all my friends are moving to Harlem. It’s like, Oh, I want to go to Harlem. My brother’s got a condominium there. He just got a production studio in Sobro, South Bronx, around 134th and Third. So I’ll be working there. I work for him. It’s real industrial, lots of warehouses, right underneath the bridges. Industry artsy people love that mystique, little cobblestones. I would think about moving there—you can walk over the bridge to Harlem but not have to pay those Harlem rents. I found this apartment through Silverman Realty, all these really nice Jewish women in Parkchester. They showed me the Grand Concourse area, but they said at night it isn’t so nice. One of the women really liked me and wanted me to meet her landlord, a Greek gentleman. The thing is, I heard about friends who go through bad things with their landlords . . .

The story of Dracula, well, Bram Stoker’s, is all about real estate and landlords. The count wants to buy a house in the city, near some lovely throat, and that’s why he sends for solicitor Jonathan Harker, but then of course the story leaps to ultimate property ownership—the human soul! So my landlord is so cool! Every morning he’s here making sure things are running smoothly. I don’t cook. Once my refrigerator wasn’t working. I eventually called only because the water was dripping. He said, “How come you didn’t call me before?” The woman downstairs lived in the building 30 years. One day my bathwater’s running over, we’re talking flood. I go down. In this neighborhood they have the Italian women who still have the beehive hairdos. There was this crossing guard down there with her, another neighbor. She was feisty, had to be 70, didn’t take any mess. She said to me, “Bathwater? Who still takes baths?” They were playing like a good cop, bad cop thing. Like, We’re going to handle this guy. I’m helping her mop up. I hear her on the phone. “The guy from upstairs is down here, aren’t they decent people?” I got three cards at Christmas, one was from her.

I was raised in Brownsville. Mom was a math teacher, Dad a welder. They bought a house on Dean Street for $23,000 in 1965. Five years ago it went for $175,000. Dad’s older brother was the owner of Zeke’s Soul Food, the spot in the ’50s, ’60s, in Bed-Stuy. All the country people would go to Zeke’s—Cadillac driving, big cigars. Mom and Dad met at the counter. I just thought of that. Granddaddy sat on the front stool, Aunt Mary at the grill. My parents are retired now to Lone Star, South Carolina. My Uncle Zeke’s Last Stop is there now, a little, nasty stop over the train tracks where my dad goes at night, plays cards. Today’s my parents’ anniversary. When my dad goes in and out, they still kiss. When they watch TV, his head is on a pillow in her lap. Forty-three years together! I’m just waiting for maybe two weeks.

This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on February 18, 2003

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