Saturday, April 26, 2008


Yesterday morning there was a fluff item on NPR concerning NYC real estate. In a overly cheery, old lady voice, the commentator mentioned that in the entire country real estate may be tanking, but not so in NYC. Her case in point was the recent sale of 800 sq.feet of storage space in the basement of the Dakota for the wopping sum of $800,000. Some hedge fund manager wanted to turn it into a gym. Now there's a building I know all too intimately.
The Dakota came into pop culture consciousness in the late sixties. It was the location for Roman Polanski's ROSEMARY'S BABY. While Charlie Manson's FAMILY was eviserating Roman's wife Sharon Tate, the Devil was stalking the Dakota's dark hallways. In the early 80's John and Yoko stepped out the front onto 72nd. St., on their way to dinner. Mark David Chapman stepped up and put a bullet in John. The Devil was back.
A decade later I got a job with Strasser and Assoc. as a carpenter. Many of our clients resided in the Dakota. At first it was kinda cool riding the elevator with Lauren Bacall or fixing Connie Chung's floor. But as in all things, as time wore on it became just another annoying place to scratch out a living in Manhattan. I was there when President Clinton visited Jane Rosenthal. Jane had just produced WAG THE DOG. Bill was still banging Monica Lewinski. I was there when Joe Namath's young wife Tatiana stole everything but the fireplace during their testy divorce. I had just built their daughter's bunk beds. Far as i know she couldn't get it out the front door. I was there when Yoko threw a shit fit because I said hi in the main elevator. "WHY ARE CAPENTERS RIDING IN THE ELEVATOR?" she bitched. I couldn't blame her for being rattled by dirt covered strangers. For the life of me I couldn't figure why she stayed in that evil place. Once I even had sex in a client's apt. (I won't mention with who) as the rest of the crew went for lunch. And I swear I caught sight of souless eyes peering out of a dark corner.
So after hearing the item on NPR I emailed Pete Strasser to see if he knew who bought the storage room, and if S&A had the job? Not five minutes later I got a phone call. "Mike? It's Pete." the voice said. "Pete?" I said into the phone. It didn't sound like Strasser. "Pete who?" I asked. "Burns." Pete Burns was another carpenter from the S&A crew. "Hey Pete. I just emailed Strasser. What's up?"
"Is this Mike So and So?" he asked. "It's Osterhout" I said. "Fuck I dialed the wrong number dude." We chatted for a couple of minutes. He told me he was now working for the Union. "Working for the Devil." I said. He grunted. Then he apologized for not calling for 10 years and possibly hurting my feelings. "But as I remember you don't have any." We left it at that.


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