A Bit o’ New York


Location East Village

Rent $1,043.95 (rent stabilized)

Square feet 650 (four-room, tub-in-kitchen apartment in tenement)

Occupants Jim Colgan (producer, The Brian Lehrer Show, WNYC radio); Joey Hogue (special events coordinator, New York Public Library)

It’s so cozy in here with your cream-and-rose-colored lampshades with fringe. But is it small! Which brings to mind this movie Mirage, where there’s a blackout in this New York skyscraper and Gregory Peck has to go down the stairs in the dark and a woman shines a light in his face and screams, “You’re the one!” and then they run into each other at the zoo near a black panther pacing in its cage and one says: “They use every inch of space in the cage. She’s making it as large as she can.” So if a person paces a room, does it make it seem bigger? [Joey] We had this labyrinth experience in San Francisco when we went into a church. It was on a carpet. It makes you feel like you’re walking forever. [Jim] Even though the other person is right there next to you, they’re 10 minutes away.

Thus, a labyrinth would make an apartment seem larger! Wait, that doesn’t make sense. [Jim] Joey’s twin brothers were just here with their girlfriends—six of us. [Joey] Our air mattress took up the entire floor. I warned the girls not to bring extra clothes. My brothers are on the grocery store track. One’s like the front area manager. The other’s the stocker. They’re obsessed with getting as high up in the grocery business as they can. I’m from Michigan and Sarasota. [Jim] We met at this Irish American newspaper.

Your mother looks like Queen Elizabeth—big blue roses on her hat. [Jim] My brother’s wedding photo. We’re from Dublin. My brother came here first. He’s in Fort Greene now. He used to have this apartment. When he told me there was a shower in the kitchen, I couldn’t believe him. I was like, you can’t possibly live comfortably in a place that doesn’t have a separate bathroom.

Aren’t there tenement apartments in Dublin? All those plays, they’re poor. You read about it a lot more. Juno and the Paycock. The father stands for his principle even if it tears apart the family.

Let’s go up on the roof. [Jim] I love our roof access. I have a fascination with aerial views. I have to be sitting near the window if I’m flying anywhere. I actually got that Microsoft plane simulator thing. I was a bit worried about buying it on eBay. My sister said, “You’re going to have the FBI after you.” It’s actually scary, suddenly you’re seeing the image of the controls, the cockpit. When you can crash into buildings, nothing happens. It just sort of bumps. You’re supposed to take all these lessons on it and then at the end they say, “You just advanced yourself to a 747.”

You do this at your computer at the window facing your airshaft—flying in the clean, invisible space, no barriers, no dreary muddy earth pulling one down, no broken furniture like I saw on the street on the way over, no one sitting on a curb singing off-key, no garbage, no gravel trucks moaning, or men arguing about some stupid thing. Of course the irony is that inside a plane, it’s more oppressive than anywhere. I had to go with this man in his private plane to a wedding and it was the size of a closet and I looked out the window and we’re 70,000 feet in the air and I couldn’t get out and then he said that he hadn’t eaten all day because he’s anorexic. Let’s look down at the houses. We can see people’s porches. It’s like a stage set on this warm night, screen doors open. [Jim] There are loads of cats down there. Sometimes we have a mouse problem in our building. We got a humane trap. [Joey] He feeds them to the cats. [Joey walks to the ledge of the roof to look down.] [Jim] Careful . . . Amazing how fast those clouds are moving.

[email protected]