Sunday, April 24, 2011

Is it Antique Yet?

I can see how people become hoarders. I can't necessarily ID with the ones who dysfunctionally stuff their homes to the rafters, but rather with the kind that roam around outdoors with bags. I've been roaming as such for years now, with bags, between my place and my boyfriend's apartment in Chelsea. What I might need where and when, whether it be clothes, a certain soup pot, shirt, information, or a piece of some project, always on my mind. I have been thoroughly confounded by this practice at times, so much so that there must be much more to it than the petty hurts of inconvenience and minor impracticality. Perhaps its simply put; when I stay away from my home I miss it, and I want to take stuff from it with me. Its the same as the rampant pilfering of rocks and seashells while on vacation. Speaking of which, such loot from who-knows-where now sits collecting dust on the windowsills, nevermind the weighty hoard laid in stacked shoe boxes in the back of my tool closet.

But within my apartment I'm not a hoarder, been pretty organized over the years, having made it a rule never to 'outgrow' my space so as to spill over into off-site storage. Being ultimately a pessimist, I never fully trusted the urban myth that a storage space was 'temporary' until the country place was secured. Maybe this very fact is the only reason that my Century Farm back stoop where the rocks were destined has yet to materialize. Never say never I suppose, but if only I had labeled them all accordingly at time and place of acquisition, I could now make an intriguing art work of public practice by returning them back, each and every one, from whence they came.

Save for boxes of rocks, moving the contents of my apartment will be a mostly manageable undertaking. It is moving pieces the apartment itself, stuff I'll 'need' in the new place, a Sheetrock box I suspect, no matter how 'luxuriously appointed', (more on that later) that I'm a bit worried about.

I'm taking my solid wood doors with their beautiful marbly doorknobs, along with the original wood moulding, provided I can prise it off the walls without splintering it. The clay moulding I can't take or I would, it breaks, held together at this point only by layers of latex. The 1 x 1-inch tiles inlaid in the bathroom floor are still up for consideration, but the giant old bathtub and ancient sink are coming with. Both are enameled iron I think, and each one astonishingly heavy. I want the double duty utility sink that I installed for the kitchen and studio and the set of hand-finished wood shelves that are built into the studio wall. There's the hundred-year-old funky corner cabinet built way too high (strange it's so high, the tops shelves unreachable. I always wondered why, maybe for poisons, to keep kids out?) in the kitchen plus an old tin shelf in the bathroom. I want the one code fire escape grate that I installed plus the old, now illegal accordion-style one as well, just for old times sake. Maybe its an antique by now? I would take portions of the walls if I could. I have left them as they were unless they were crumbling, in which case they were covered with cement spackle. Here and there can be seen cracks, stains, yellowing, and the writings and scribbles of various workers and people before me; measurements, a message taken for a phone call when no paper was within reach.

The old fridge or stove however, are staying behind. Gas stoves are a dime a dozen plus I've always been a bit afraid of the particular one in my kitchen. As for the fridge, it's strange I'm not more attached to it. I have marveled at it at times, its clunky 1950s fridgeness. But the handle has to be handled just right or it won't close, and I'm sure it leaks too. I probably have freon poisoning.

I'm aware that packing out actual pieces of the apartment is perhaps a grander-scale mimicking of the act of shuttling possessions to and from my boyfriend's place, and I suspect that the need to do it rests much more in the psychological than the practical. Way.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I sat in on a meeting on the roof the other day. In attendance were the CM (construction manager), one of the development company partners (did I mention that a developer is putting up a new building in the place of our old one?) and some "demolition experts". Turns out they must demolish the building "by hand" is the inconguously quaint term. Apparently, things have changed in the demo-permitting dept., especially in such tight an urban condition as lower Manhattan. That coupled with the fact of our adjacency with our 'sister' building to the south, with which we only share a wall and a name anymore, Germania Flats. We are the Flats part, fyi, the dirty half.

We've been through this before. In the back and to the north we used to share bricks with a huge old complex called CUANDO, at 9 2nd Ave. We are now 9, as CUANDO is now gone. CUANDO was a giant community center complete with a Y-size swimming pool in the basement, 2 theatres, a chapel, an auditorium and a caged-in basketball court on the roof. By it's end ten years ago the whole place, which took up about a third of the block behind our building, was riddled with rats and squatters, the former visiting us in droves when the site was disturbed during CUANDO's demo (see befores-and-afters below taken from our roof and the back of our block taken from Bowery), the latter taking up residence in our basement for a time.

The rats not only infiltrated our ground floor, but climbed the stairs, at night presumably because no-one can claim to have seen them during their ascent, eventually summitting the top floor, though thankfully not in my apartment. That was fun, a rat infestation, but the human squatter infestation was much worse. They were somewhat more discreet than their 4-legged former roommates, and their residency in our basement went unnoticed for the better part of a year. The squatters split as soon as we discovered them, but they left our formerly empty basement looking like an abandoned refugee camp for needle junkies, crackheads, meth freaks and drunks. They used a far corner for the loo. I couldnt even pay a hazmat company to come in and take a look, much less clean it up. More on that later.

Back to our demolition. There can be no bulldozers, no dust, no nothing falling from the sky or thrown from the roof, no sensational collapse. All lead and asbestos must be abated beforehand, as it is 'everywhere' inside evidently, (great!... didn't know that...!) a kind of interior pre-demo to the demo, so as to not release 'harmful particles' into the atmosphere and pose a 'serious health threat' to demo workers within or to the surrounding inhabitants without. The building will be dissassembled brick by brick, rather than knocked down. Elaborate demo plans will be drawn up, as layered and extensive as those required to put up the new building. I inquired after a set of such plans, to own, once they exist, for posterity...

"Sure, after all the lawsuits are settled.....", the developer joked.

heh heh. Real Estate Developer Humor I suppose.

I'm already thinking how many bricks to save along with my wire....and maybe a stone lintel or two?

Thanks for reading!

More later.