What Would Guido Do?

I created a little controversy recently when I referred to the Rat Man’s stomping grounds as being in Greenpoint. Addrobinson, a frequent New York Shitty commenter, noted:

Its funny you know him as the “rat maniac”, because to me & my friends he is “The Pigeon Maniac”. I always just assume that he was feeding the Pigeons and the rats took care of what the birds left behind. I also find it very odd that you consider that area to be “southeastern Greenpoint”, in all the years I have lived here that is the first time I’ve heard anyone even use that term, let alone call that area it.

What constitutes Greenpoint? This is a very contentious question. If you ask an old timer, as another commenter (Zeebah) suggested, he or she will tell you the area in question (Kingsland Avenue near Frost Street) is in Greenpoint. If you ask a real estate agent, he (or she) will call it Williamsburg. It is simply a matter of who benefits. Which brings me to this:

Martone’s Dairy

This rather nifty old photo can be seen at De Stefano’s Restaurant. Note the location where the picture was taken: Graham Avenue between Devoe and Metropolitan Avenue. Now let’s take a closer look at the neighborhood inscribed on this photo, shall we?

Greenpoint, Brooklyn, NY

Interesting. My curiosity piqued, I asked the owner of the restaurant about this unusual piece of taxonomy. He explained to me that when he was a kid no one who lived in this area called it Williamsburg. That neighborhood was considered distasteful. Greenpoint, therefore, was used because it was considered to be “more classy”. So there have you.

What do I consider to be Greenpoint? Well, this map should give you a general idea.

What is Greenpoint?

The semi-transparent red line indicates the boundaries of the 11222 zip code. The additional shaded sections are areas I consider to be Greenpoint that fall outside this zip code. The more eagle-eyed among you will notice that the Greenpoint Hospital would be considered by many not to be in Greenpoint at all. It is also very telling to note that the engraved text (which read “Greenpoint Hospital”) which once graced the entrance of this building has been removed. I have little doubt this was done at the behest of a real estate professional. Perhaps the developer plans on having “East Williamsburg Hospital” inscribed its place?

I suppose there is no clear cut means of determining what constitutes Greenpoint— or any neighborhood, for that matter. Or is there? As daskol observed:

Guido, the mayor of Withers Street, will kick your ass if you refer to this area as Williamsburg. He might change his tune when it’s time to list his property.

I think it is time for us to stop bickering and ask ourselves a much more important question:

What would Guido do?

Miss Heather

What Is Missing From This Picture?

October 16, 2007 ·
Filed under: 11222, Abjectecture, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Yesterday was a beautiful day. So much so I shook off my autumn doldrums and went for a walk. I am very, very happy I did. Read on and find out why.

609 Manhattan Avenue 10/15/07

When I reached 607 Manhattan Avenue I stopped. “Something is missing, but I just can’t put my finger on it.” I mused to myself.

609 Manhattan Avenue 6/3/07

Oh, that’s what it is. That hideous sign I have been ranting about for months has been removed! Wondering if the Department of Buildings had a hand in this most auspicious (and long awaited) event, I hightailed it home and checked out their web site.

DOB BIS 609 Manhattan Avenue 10/15/07

THEY DID!!!

I would like to take a moment to thank the folks at the Department of Buildings for ordering the removal this of this hideous (and potentially dangerous) eyesore from my community. I’ve given your agency a real drubbing of late, but I believe in giving props for a job well done. Now, if S.P.I.T. would work its regulatory magic on 72 Norman Avenue, we’ll be all aces.

Miss Heather

Miss Heather’s Apartment Share Inferno

New York Shitty is a metropolis of pissers and moaners. Crappy jobs/job interviews, crappy dates, crappy landlords: someone has written a lengthy (and usually pithy) missive (or two) about them all. Yet no one has written about a subject that encapsulates all the previous and more: apartment shares and the people who offer them. Until today.

I care not for landlords, first dates or job interviews— but at least I know what all the previous involve: me getting fucked. Be it metaphorically, physically or both. The same cannot be said about apartment share interviews, as I learned several years ago.

The purpose of this post is to showcase the three worst (and/or weirdest) apartment share interviews I have ever had. I have even taken the liberty of creating a handy checklist to track the depths of depravity I endured. Nothing says “you’ve arrived” (in HELL) like PowerPoint, after all.

CASE STUDY #1: THE DUNGEON

The Dungeon

Vital Statistics

Location: Meserole Street and Graham Avenue
Rent: $450 a month
The Catch: It’s a SRO

Truth be told, I was not very jazzed about the location of this share. Sure, it is a beautiful building, but I am a Greenpoint gal through and through. However, when one is dirt-ass broke, she cannot afford to be choosy, so I checked it out.

When I arrived at the front door I was greeted by a young woman. I think she was from Belgium, though it was hard to tell. She was a very pleasant and elegantly dressed lady— which made up for the decidedly NON-elegant setting.

As she led me through the front door (of her section) of the SRO, a man donning a dragon mask and reeking of marijuana popped out of another door and started giggling inanely. “Okay”, I thought “So he likes to party a little on a Sunday afternoon. Who doesn’t? No problem.”

The room she showed me was very spacious. I’ve seen many apartments smaller than this space, which probably measured around 400 square feet. I even liked the shade of lilac the walls were painted. Very pretty. I even told her so and she thanked me. She had picked out the paint herself.

Then I saw something I have never seen in any apartment/share space before: leather restraints, paddles and heavy chains anchored to the wall by mollies. Given that this was a three month sublease, the presence of these implements was non-negotiable. I could honestly not care less what this woman did (professionally?), but I don’t think I could have handled waking up every morning to the sight of Medieval torture devices. I was offered this sublet, but turned it down.

All things considered this experience was pretty mild (as I later would learn). What’s more, she was really likable and clearly not out to rip me off so I give this share a rating of…

SRO of Pain

CASE STUDY #2: MESEROLE STREET SUICIDE SHARE

Suicide Hall

Vital Statistics

Location: Meserole and Leonard Street
Rent: $500 a month
The Catch: Too many to summarize

The only reason I agreed to an interview at this share was because I confused “Meserole Street” with “Meserole Avenue”. After my interview at this hellhole I have never confused the two thoroughfares since.

I knocked on the door, a smallish red-haired man answered and ushered me in. It was dark. It was dirty. It was the bachelor pad date rape central replete with a disemboweled motorcycle in the living area. Although something about the “head roomie” was unsettling to me, I liked the other guy and heard them out. He was nice.

Then the shoes dropped, one after the other.

  1. Once the “Head Roomie” stood by the bathroom area (which was better lit) I recognized him; this shithead had I.M.ed me on Nerve a month ago. And being a freak (him more so than, me), I dissed him. Whoops.
  2. After making the previous discovery he showed me the room. It was okay, I guess. Then he pulled out a photo album and pointed to a picture of 20-something brunette chap.

See this guy?

I answered: yes.

He used to live in that space. Really nice guy, always laughing. We didn’t realize he had problems.

Me: Really, what kind of problems?

After not hearing from him a couple of days we went into his room and discovered that he had shot himself in the head hanged himself.

Me: I’m sorry to hear that.

What the hell do you say to something like that? How can one NOT notice a DEAD BODY for TWO WHOLE DAYS??? These are both very good questions. I kept them to myself.

I feel that people need to know about this, you know.

He said.

Let’s see: this was either the most diabolical form of revenge ever exacted (Where’s Candid Camera?) or this guy is being honest. Given the lack of overall intelligence he demonstrated on Nerve, I’m leaning towards the latter. I bet he is still trolling the Internets for leg too. My advice: no woman in her right mind is going to put out in a place that reeks of motor oil.

When I took the above the photo a meathead busy recycling beer bottles shouted:

Take a picture of the building across the street, it’s much nicer!

Leonard Street Fedders Special

And, inasmuch as I hate to say it, I agree. At least no one has blown his (or her) brains out here hanged him (or herself) there.

Yet.

With so many different factors at play, I am going to stick with simple suicide on this one and give this share a…

Meserole Street Suicide Den

At last! We are down to our last contender from the Universe’s very own Garden Spot: Greenpoint, Brooklyn U.S.A.!

CASE STUDY #3: STONER SPECIAL

Nassau Ave Bachelor Pad

Vital Statistics

Location: Nassau Avenue and Monitor Street
Rent: $600 a month
The Catch: It’s total fucking rip-off… and more!

I slog my ass over to this place. It stinks. Literally. Only a block away from Kingsland Avenue, the corner where this building is situated sports a perfume I like to call Petro le Um #5. Being the eager little domicile hunter I was (because I have a strong distaste about being homeless) I go in.

It is a loft. I do not like lofts. Inasmuch as the real estate industry likes to throw around the buzz phrase “artist loft” my experience has been that “artists” generally do not inhabit such spaces. I write this as an artist. 252 Norman Avenue was no exception.

I look around and note the “stoner special” layout of the living area: three really big, threadbare sofas encircling a very expensive widescreen television set. I am shown the room that is for rent: it is (maybe) eight by ten feet. It has no windows whatsoever. They are asking $600 a month for this piece of shit. In 2001.

I am then subjected to a gauntlet of questions by the residents of this place. I smile and answer them politely. Then I go home.

A weeks goes by and I get a phone call. It is one of the fellows from this apartment.

Me: So did I get the share?
Dude: No, but I thought you were cute and wondered if you’d like to go out on a date.

WTF!?!

When I told my buddy Larry about this recently, he opined:

You should have gone out with the guy and moved in with him. That way you will have a place to live and not have to pay rent.

Funny man, that Larry.

That said, there is something so utterly WRONG about using apartment share interviews to pick up chicks. It takes real chutzpah to call someone, tell her she did NOT get the share and then ask her on a date. Truth be told, it gave me the fucking creeps. So I give this jerk a…

Stoner Special

In case you are wondering, I ended up putting all my shit in storage and sofa surfing until I found a place of my own. I can honestly say that one month of sofa-surfing wasn’t that bad when faced with my alternatives.

Miss Heather

Mattress with Benefits

June 18, 2007 ·
Filed under: 11222, Greenpoint, Greenpoint Brooklyn, Greenpoint Magic 

Mattress

I encountered the above mattress yesterday evening on Greenpoint Avenue. Upon closer inspection I learned this item has some “added-value” you’re probably not going to get from the likes of 1-800-Mattress, Macy’s or even IKEA.

Mattress Detail

Tasty.

Miss Heather

By popular demand…

After tossing up this post (which featured arguably the most diabolically clever ruse to get noisy neighbors to cease and desist) I had a number of people request copies of this letter. This weekend I happened to bump into my fiendish friend and asked him for it. Twenty four hours later there it was in my inbox. “John” writes:

Hi Heather,

here’s the letter, you can post it as is if you like. I folded this letter into an envelope that had the name of some attorney on it. . . .a nice subtly that may have had an effect. So, I wrote this after going up to their door 3 separate times to politely explain the noise situation. Nothing changed, in fact it seemed to get worse. Anyway, things have been quiet since delivering this note.

Without further ado, here it is. Enjoy!

Dear Upstairs Neighbors,

First I’d like to say I appreciate what you’ve done to keep the noise level down. I can’t imagine it’s very easy. However, I feel that I may not have made my message clear, that is why I’m writing this letter. My entire apartment is basically below your kitchen and bathroom. Your kitchen floor is my ceiling.

I’m not talking about regular footfalls from normal walking, that I can hear and easily deal with. I’m referring to moments of thunderous vibrating pulses of sound from stomping and jumping that take place over my entire apartment.

To understand this, you have to know that your kitchen floor is the original flooring from the early 1900’s. No reinforcement, only very thin, old dry floor joists. That is why the walls and floor of my apartment explode with vibration when there is heavy walking, esp. with shoes.

Like I mentioned earlier, I can hear every step anyone makes upstairs above me, not a problem, but when there is heavy walking and pounding on the floor, plaster has literally fallen from the ceiling and objects on the shelves begin to shudder, similar to a small earthquake. No joke. The quality of living in this apartment has severely diminished. I’ve lived here for 4 years and have never experienced this before.

There is a clause in the lease that allows the tenant to enjoy the peaceful environment of their apartment and I have to tell you that has not been the case within the last two months! The last thing I want to do is bother or complain about excessive noises, but when it starts to effect my daily existence, sleep and general concentration, it’s time for all neighbors to be aware of it and concessions have to be made.

I have to tell you that there have been times when I actually feel trapped in my apartment, when the pounding and stomping begin to consume the air of my small space. I have no where else to go when this noise level ratchets up. I’m basically a prisoner in this pulsating box as I sit and wait until it slowly goes away..

Look, I pay my rent here, and help the landlady with odds and ends around the building to help maintain a safe, positive and peaceful environment in this building and apartment. So, while your kitchen floor (my ceiling) is only a thin separation between tenants, your living room floor however, is totally reinforced.

I helped to install the flooring in that front living room. Three quarter inch plywood laid over the original wood flooring plus insulation then carpet. That makes a huge difference. You could put on a Broadway show on that floor and not bother anyone.

I’m not asking for total silence, that’s ridiculous I understand. I’m asking for everyone who lives above me to be mindful of the impact they’re making on the kitchen floor. That’s all!!

One thing that would help is to consider taking shoes off when walking on the floor in the kitchen area. It’s a night and day difference for me.

Please understand my situation, I would appreciate anything that you can do to help out here. If not, I will be forced to take other initiatives.

Thank you,

Your neighbor

How many hipsters does it take to turn off a smoke detector?

Hell if I know. All I’m saying is for the last two hours my husband and I have had the pleasure of hearing “BEEP, BEEP” at four minute intervals. OVER AND OVER. Why? Because our ‘nabes tossed their smoke detector behind their/our apartment.

Smoke Detector

Why didn’t they just remove the fucking battery!?! And to think these are the very folks who will be bankrolling my social security in my old age. I’m already staking out my spot under the BQE.

Miss Heather

UPDATE: it is 12:45 a.m., May 4th, and the alarm is still going strong.

SECOND UPDATE: 9:52 a.m., May 4th, STILL GOING.

THIRD UPDATE: 4:13 p.m., May 4th, STILL GOING.

FOURTH UPDATE: 8:35 p.m., May 4th, STILL GOING STRONG.

Miss Heather

Night Smelling Committee

Dept. of Heath(er)?

A weekly feature I have inaugurated of late (albeit irregularly to date) is featuring an odd, provocative and/or strangely relevant chunk ‘o’ Greenpoint history for all to savor.

To steal a phrase from my buddy Judy McGuire, Man, oh Manishevitz do I have a fun tale of “Oy vey” before the l’oi ill’splay to share today. Oil spill or otherwise, Newtown Creek stinks… even back in 1892, when the Mayor of Brooklyn came down to inspect the stench personally. The following article is from the August 27th, 1892 edition of the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. I have taken the liberty of condensing this VERY VERBOSE article and bold-facing my favorite passages. Enjoy!

SMELLS FOR THE MAYOR

Two Newton Creek Samples Were Quite Enough
His Honor’s Brief Trip Upon the
Slimy Stream With the Health Commissioner, the Corporation Counsel, Alderman Fitzgibbon and a Committee of Citizens— Relief Promised.

Mayor Boody had cold and rainy weather for his visit of inspection yesterday to the much complained of factories on the shores of Newton Creek. The citizens from the Fifteenth and Seventeenth Wards who accompanied him would have been much better pleased over a heavy and sultry day. The smells would then have been at their worst, so far as the daytime is concerned, for after all it is at night that the vileness of Newton Creek odors is most apparent and oppressive. As it was Mayor Boody in a very few minutes yesterday got quite enough of creek smells and was more than satisfied long before the committee of citizens was.

The mayor, accompanied by Health Commissioner Griffin and Corporation Counsel Jenks, was driven in a carriage to Chapman’s docks at the head of Grand Street. He was met there by the committees of eastern district citizens. The only other representative of the city govenment was Alderman Fitzgibbon, who accompanied the Seventeenth Ward delegation and whose home is within the district invaded by the noxious smells…

Alderman Fitzgibbon and other members of the party welcomed the mayor, health commissioner and the corporation counsel and escorted them to the steam propeller Mascot. It was raining smartly then and a stiff breeze was blowing, but the heavy, sickening odor from the neighboring fertilizing factories and from the filthy creek itself saluted Mayor Boody’s nostrils even before he left his carriage. Health Commissioner Griffin bore the smell like a veteran, but Corporation Counsel Jenkins looked unfeignedly sick from the start. The smell seemed a little worse than he had prepared himself to meet.

Through the slimy waters the boat coursed, while members of the committee sitting in the wheelhouse with the mayor told him they were sorry the tide was not low, for then the smell would be many times worse. Mayor Boody, intimated, with a laugh, that the situation as it was seemed sufficiently atrocious. A stop was made at Cord Meyer’s bone boiling establishment on Furman’s Island, only a hasty and superficial examination was made, but the smell was such that Mr. Jenks turned away in disgust and gasped for fresh air. The mayor tried hard to conscientiously sniff all the odors that were to be caught, but began toshow signs of not relishing the task. When the party re-embarked the boat steamed to Andrew Wissel & Co’s place, also on Furman’s Island. Wissel has the contract to remove offal from King’s County, and out of his unsavory stock he manufactures fertilizing preparations. Wissel’s son in law, a young man of pleasing manners and speech, tried hard to convince Mayor Boody that the atmosphere was not polluted, but the mayor’s nostrils were as wide open as his ears, and with a significant sniff and a still more more significant look he started off towards the boat.

A whole creek full of stench producing establishments remained, but Mayor Boody asked to be taken back to the Grand Street dock, where his carriage awaited him, “I have had enough of this,” he said. “I realize that you have a grievance and I want to live to help you.” “It is a crying shame.” said Corporation Counsel Jenks. The he stopped suddenly and listened without comment to members of the committee who explained that the odors which had sickened him were nightly pervading miles of Brooklyn thoroughfares and ruining the comfort and the health of thousands of people. The health commissioner had little to say, but both the mayor and corporation counsel freely promised to do what they could to abate the nuisance. “We will use all the power possible,” the mayor said in substance, “but it is your duty also to exert yourselves. A nuisance exists here and it is for you to prove it a nuisance. Everybody who suffers from this nuisance should be prepared to come downtown and testify against it. The trouble has been that when two or three citizens came down to testify that these smells were a nuisance the other side invariably presented a greater number of witnesses who were willing to swear that no nuisance existed.”

The mayor and his party were cheered by the delegations as they re-entered their carriage. Afterward some of the delegated sailed the length of Newton Creek and paid a brief visit to Rosenberg’s fat rendering and bone boiling establishment near Calvary Cemetary Bridge. At no time during the afternoon, however, was anything like a thorough examination of the alleged nuisances on the creek shore made.

In the evening an executive meeting Seventeenth Ward citizens was held at 101 Monitor Street. Henry T. Steinhaner presented a report of the mayor’s visit to the creek and also reported, with much detail, the result of several night trips which have recently been made by Seventeenth Ward citizens to Newton Creek factories. This report is not to be made public… the intention being to use it in the courts as evidence. Members of the night smelling committee say, however, that their experiences have been quite stirring at times, and that some day they will make interesting reading.

And they have! It is interesting (and a little depressing) to learn that even in 2007 nothing has really changed. Same shit, different century.

Miss Heather

Dung of the Day: Done Dirty Harry Style

A number of people who have made my acquaintance are amused and confused by my veneration of “Dirty Harry”. Those who know me— REALLY know me— understood my glee when my father upgraded to the DVD “Dirty Harry” box set and I got his old VHS box set. The weekend immediately following this windfall was one uninterrupted “Dirty Harry” Testosteronathon replete with many a 12 ounce can of Budweiser so I could exhibit my femme macha by crushing them when the need arose.

One does not watch “Dirty Harry” movies for the plot (they’re all more or less interchangeable). One does not watch “Dirth Harry” movies for Oscar-caliber acting either (though Tyne Daly, Hal Holbrook and Mr. Eastwood are nothing to sniff at). NO SIR.

One watches “Dirty Harry” movies to enjoy some blue-chip ass kicking and the odd nugget(s) of witty repartee to be found therein. Simple as that.

Having established my “Dirty Harry” street cred, it should be known that my tastes regarding memorable quotes from these movies tend to run towards the oblique. Anyone (even those who have never seen any of the movies) knows the ubiquitous “Go ahead, make my Day”, but what about some of Harry Callahan’s more Zen-like words of wisdom?

If you have been kept up at night knocking around “Dirty Harry” quotes (as I have), today is your lucky day: with a little bit of Internet research I found the “Dirty Harry” quote (from “Sudden Impact”) which best epitomizes this blog and I am going to share it with you.

Listen, punk. To me you’re nothin’ but dogshit, you understand? And a lot of things can happen to dogshit. It can be scraped up with a shovel off the ground. It can dry up and blow away in the wind. Or it can be stepped on and squashed. (Or it can be wiped on a napkin and left on the sidewalk at Meserole  Avenue and Diamond Street — Ed. Note) So take my advice and be careful where the dog shits ya!

meseroleanddiamond

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