Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Tribute to 187

I am sad. Not because of the weather, which is beautiful, or because I'm a temp, or even because I live in New York City. No, I am sad because soon the phenomenon that represented the best the entire eastern seaboard had to offer is about to implode under the weight of its own awesomeness and scatter to the five boroughs like so many bits of dandelion fluff on a suburban lawn.

187 is moving.

187 is--*sniff* was--my first New York address. It's actually still on my NY driver's license, which I will leave as is in tribute to the people who made those two glorious months so, well, glorious.

I shared the first floor apartment with an opera composer, another writer, and a backyard mulberry tree that fed the local rat population. The second floor was one huge apartment of dreadlocked lesbians and one three-legged cat. The third floor was split between Studio 187, where my divine friend Yarrow held court with her fellow hiphop artists, and Bar 187, the beating heart, the nerve center of the whole operation.

Bar 187 was run by a couple who had a roots band called the Shithouse Lilies--"we're huge in West Virginia!"--and it wasn't just a clever name. (The bar, not the band name; that really was just clever.) They actually had a bar with a working beer tap, as pictured on the right.

And a foosball table, and a karaoke machine, and an old bar games machine with mind games and word games and games where you get to look at women's titties. They even had a big, fat kitty they'd dress up for parties by tying little ribbons around her neck. A proper bar, 187.

A memory: my second day in New York, my new housemates Andy, Kyle, and Bill, one from each floor, knocked on my door at three in the afternoon and woke me up to go drinking. (Ever traveled from Hawaii to New York? The jet lag is fierce.) They walked me down the street to their favorite non-house bar, the Tip Top, and settled me down to get hammered on cheap beer before I'd even had coffee or food.

Proper neighbors, 187.

So what if the floors all sloped noticeably downward? So what if there was exposed wiring everywhere and sweeping the kitchen floor always pulled up a few more linoleum tiles? A shitty house can always be held together for a few more weeks with some duct tape and a fervent prayer to St. Hugo von Dwellstoop, the patron saint of those who rent in New York.

Visual aid: a rare glimpse of St. Hugo von Dwellstoop in his natural habitat, spotted in July 2008 walking a puppy in a stroller and wearing a live parrot in his hair.

Unfortunately, the Hassidic landlord doesn't believe in the powers of St. Hugo and continuously tormented my new friends by doing stuff like locking them out of the basement, and then yelling at them because they had to break into the basement to flip the circuit breaker because there was a power outage caused by the crappy exposed wiring that the landlord refused to fix. Truly, a most unreasonable and most unpleasant man. Because I only lived there two months, I never met him and was never subject to his all-around shittiness, but any denizen of 187 has a horror story to share. Many suspected that he was just waiting for the house to collapse so he could convert the property to Hassidic-only condos. Since almost every other property on the block is Hassidic housing, and a synagogue is currently being built in 187's backyard, this seems plausible.

Especially since the landlord has just ordered everyone to get the fudge out by August 1st. And don't let the doorknob hit ya where the door shoulda bit ya.

I was only there for two months (though I confess that I picked my current apartment on the basis of its close proximity to 187), but some of the others lived there for 10 years. I can't imagine what it must be like to be forced out of their home. I can't imagine their sorrow at having to split up and find housing elsewhere. I can't imagine how they're going to get the foosball table down the stairs. Maybe lower it out the window on a rope?

So I'd like to take this opportunity to say to the Interwebs and anyone who might care that I am eternally grateful for my time spent in that amazing house, and say thank you to Matt, who gave me his room; Bill and Jason, who shared their apartment; Erin and Andy, incredible musicians who threw the best parties east of Spokane; and Yarrow, who connected me to all of the others. Mahalo nui loa and aloha oe... until we meet again...

In two weeks when I come over to help everyone pack.

No comments:

Post a Comment