From The New York Shitty Inbox: Fan Mail!
As a general rule I refrain from posting emails I receive from fans. However, in this case I am going to make an exception as one of Greenpoint’s most hallowed institutions is mentioned. Yes, I am talking about none other than the Greenpoint Hotel. Enjoy!
Dear Miss Heather,
I rarely (re: never) contribute to internet “comment” boards; however, as a native New Yorker (born and raised first 30 years of my life) I feel I would be remiss if I did not inform you of the great joy I have reading your Greenpoint blog. I stumbled upon your lovely online endeavor a few weeks ago, casually searching for information on the current status of the Greenpoint Hotel, of which I have many unusual memories, as my cousin lived there for a year and a half about 20 years ago (when he was first discharged from the Navy and refused to move back in with his parents in The Bronx.) I visited him frequently at the Greenpoint (or more accurately: I would go inside just long enough to knock on his door, and then we would go someplace ELSE to hang out.) My cousin eventually had to move out of the Greenpoint when, upon returning from his job at Blockbuster Video one fine fall evening, he found that the room five floors above him had caught on fire, and five stories of flaming junk had tunneled straight down onto his bed through the ceiling. Curiously, the fire caused no other structural damage to the hotel, which was a great oddity of engineering, physics and combustion, according to the many firemen on site.
Your portraits of the fine Greenpoint townfolk have a stark, unusual clarity and affectionate beauty; and your High-larious narrative describes, in my opinion, an accurate representation of what I humbly consider “real side of New York”, the side of NYC that tourists rarely seek on purpose. I’ve lived in California 10 years now, and checking up on your blog brings me right back home, reminding me of all the cringe-worthy quirks and customs in NY I grew up with and hold dear to my heart. Kudos to you, Texas gal!
PS – My former-Greenpoint Hotel-dwelling cousin currently lives in Las Vegas, where he owns a lovely three bedroom home with his wife of 12 years and their 6 year old daughter; he credits the Greenpoint Hotel for “inspiration to live right”. Perhaps the Greenpoint Hotel does serve some kind of higher divine purpose, unseen by the uninitiated? The mind reels.
Thanks for the kind words, CSC! You know, I had never thought about it but you might be right: the Greenpoint Hotel may, in fact, serve a higher purpose in the universe. Not that I care to find out personally, mind you!
UPDATE, March 30, 2011: I have received a follow-up email from CSC with more data! He/she writes:
Some interesting points my cousin told me yesterday about the Greenpoint Hotel fire, to salve your Nancy Drew-like curiosity:
1. The fire happened on either October 12, 1990 or October 17th, 1990. My cousin says he can check his journals for the specific date if exact references are requested by qualified superiors. All he can remember offhand is that it was payday at Blockbuster. (Frankly, I am surprised my cousin even kept “journals”.)
2. The fire was started on the top floor by an unattended electronic hot plate, a common material possession at the hotel, as the rooms had neither kitchens nor bathrooms. Just beds. (Thin mattress, and intentionally squeaky bedsprings on a rusty frame. Of course, this was twenty years ago, perhaps things have changed. I write that without a touch of irony or sarcasm.)
3. There are only FOUR floors in the Greenpoint, not five as I had mistakenly thought; the “fifth” floor is technically the roof, which caved in as the fire burned its way straight downward like space alien acid. Coincidentally, there had been a wrought iron city garbage can on the roof placed in the exact spot where it caved, which is why it was lodged like a cherry on top of the cake of steaming, waterlogged Greenpoint possessions in my cousin’s 1st floor room.
4. The fire’s downward path was so precise that if you stood in the hallway, you could not see any fire damage. Only once you opened the room door, then you saw the destruction, and if you looked up, you could see the narrow fire-tunnel through five ceilings all the way up the blue sky, like when cartoon characters run through walls in Bugs Bunny cartoons.
5. My cousin took actual photographs of the damage, but inexplicably refuses to show them to anyone. My guess why: the photos show his fire-burned piles of audio cassettes revealing his affinity for Bronksi Beat and Milli Vanilli. It was 1990, man, we understand.
6. Finally, my cousin also reminded me that his father originally coined the phrase “New York Shitty” seventeen years ago, which you, Miss Heather, have clearly usurped via long-range telepathy.
I would have posted these fun facts on the comments board but the button wouldn’t click for me.