RENT $1,417 [market]
SQUARE FEET 1,000 [railroad apartment in early-1900s building]
OCCUPANTS Shannon Corey [musician-actress; assistant treasurer of Chef’s Theater at the Supper Club]; Anthony Ryan Enriquez [senior, comparative literature, NYU]; Lauren Caspar [senior, English/theater, Marymount Manhattan; waitperson, B.B. King’s Blues Club]
Good morning! [Lauren] Elo, aqwh.
What? I guess it’s a little early for you. [They have some coffee.]
You’re surrounded by the housing projects and the car collision repair place, near the Lorimer stop on the L. [Lauren] We have projects on both sides. [Anthony] This area is the least gentrified of Williamsburg. [Lauren] When I first moved here last July, there was like a slave factory across the street. They’d come at six in the morning, leave at midnight, totally like a sweatshop. Now it’s turned into renovated, gorgeous lofts.
You said your landlords are in Italy right now. This building is sort of standing alone. [Shannon] Next to the barbed wire. [Lauren] The wire’s around the Verizon building. They had power during the blackout. I don’t believe that’s Verizon. I don’t know what goes on. There are no windows. The ice cream trucks all park in front in summer. There’s not a moment of silence. Some are so old. They’re gone in this minor key.
Lauren, you said before that you drove around last summer in a King David Realty un-air-conditioned van to a bunch of “horrific apartments” before you found this one. You were with your great friend Angela Moznerova from Kosice, Slovakia, but she’s not living here because the INS repeatedly lost her visa extensions. Coincidentally, the Hasidic man who showed you this apartment was from Kosice! His family had lived there for generations. Small world! You have a mysterious landlord named Zef Zafir who you’ve never seen. You said you don’t really know anyone in your building except the Ecuadoran family of five, who are some of the nicest people you have ever met in your life. You share the backyard with them and plant vegetables and flowers, and like a lot of people who are slowly moving out of the neighborhood, they are Jehovah’s Witnesses!
Anthony, you knew Lauren from freshman biology class in Georgia and then you ended up on the couch here somehow and you said, “It was really shitty when Angela had to leave so suddenly. She was the responsible cleaner of the house.” When the toilet broke, Angela came home and filled a bucket with water. She said nonchalantly, “In Slovakia, we did this all the time.” Then you were in Madrid last fall and your friend Carlos was roommates with the director Alejandro Amenábar and they lived in style right above the Plaza de España. Oh, I want to go there and have drinks on a terrace with a tiled floor. [Anthony] They pour you these orange drinks. In Spain they always serve potato chips. Come to Spain with me. I’ll take you around. You bring the money.
Thanks, but that’s not how I travel. You said you were born in San Diego and you haven’t seen your father since you were 9. I’ve been trying to find him. My mother works for Lockheed and orders guns for the big boys. I live this phat life. She pays for my rent but I know where the money comes from. [I quietly hum the Pet Shop Boys—”You pay my rent.”] Shannon? [Shannon] I was born on Governors Island .
How exotic! My dad was in the Coast Guard there. It’s like Roosevelt Island. [Lauren] Marymount had dorms on Roosevelt Island. [Anthony] I went to a party there. It got busted. [Then they talk about whether they’ll go to see Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. They look at their pictures on the refrigerator and discuss.]
[Upon departing, I note a big sign on the inside of the building’s front door.] What’s this? “Unfortunately, once more, an apartment in this building was robbed. This is the second time in less than two months, not to mention the past year and the high number of robberies within this neighborhood.” [Lauren] My laptop, jewelry, all my writing, were stolen.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 13, 2004