New York City Pathetic – Sensibilities

Hudson Heights side © 2008 bubblegumvision

I have been having a lot of conversations lately with my new neighbors.

Its interesting to hear my initial conclusions a year ago confirmed once again with a new set of people. That every single person whose apartment was regutted does not have problems with cigarette smoke unless the smoker is smoking outside their window. I have one of those kind of smokers that gets out on the fire escape landing and smokes.

People were telling me to open the windows, so I did, and then I was bombarded with yet another layer of smoke.

People, who, like me, are renting or subletting, whose apartment is not regutted, suffer in one way or another from the smoke. The person below me has smoke in her closet. Another person way above me has smoke in their living room. I am the only one who has every single airspace inhabited by a layer of smoke. Many people have visited here and all have volunteered to testify. I just don’t think this case requires all that. Some have written testimonies that surprised me. One person wrote that the smell lingered on their clothes for days, another person wrote that the building and apartment have layers of smoke residue, many state and local laws are broken here.

Its been uncanny the way that I had perfectly matched up the smoke with the person it belonged to. Since I moved in I have been as usual, personable. The only neighbors I had in my vicinity was the neighbor directly across from me, who had just moved in and he did not smoke and my next door neighbor who had lived in the building many years. She was interested in security but had no reply on the smoking. (Perhaps she is the smoker on the fire escape landing where she keeps mops, and uncovered buckets and a string of lights?)

I quickly befriended the people on floors 2, 3 and 4 due to laundry room conversations. Mostly though after a couple of months there were as many as 5 apartments around me in heavy construction. Every day my apartment would be filled with the debris and cigarette smoke from the construction workers. By December I was calling the Public Advocate who never answered even though I sent several letters. Maybe its like the mayor’s home phone, it doesn’t exist?

We had massive illegal public smoking so it was really hard to tell who, what, when and where. My Pavlovian experience at Morningside had taught me that when I smell smoke in the living room go outside and see who is smoking and ask them to please not smoke in the public areas. In this building there was always someone spread out on the stairwells having a beer party with smokes in the hallways or smoking in the elevator pumping in fresh cigarette smoke into my apartment. The fire department wasn’t the least bit interested in any of the cigarette smoke, I even wrote a letter to the Commissioner and did not get one single response. Obviously the fire department hasn’t been around this building complex in a long time. All the fire escapes are filled with people’s belongings.

After the construction stopped for the most part this past May I came to know the person below my next door neighbor was one source of the smoke problem and that a couple of floors above another source and across the way another and so on. After a while the smokes become like bad pets, with names from the real world speak dictionary.

But onward to deeper rooted sensibilities… Like yesterday, my smoker neighbor across the way, upon learning I had a deadly lung symptom (and not just an allergy as was mentioned in a Chinese takeout letter delivered by the landlord under the door of every tenant but me in March 2008) acknowledged the disability. I respect that you have a disability and I’ll be more careful with my smoke and tell others I see smoking in the halls to be more considerate.

I had received a followup with a City authority today, I had ruffled her up a bit on Friday via email. She kept saying that the City doesn’t deal with problems like yours, they deal with real stuff. I understand you feel uncomfortable with the smoke. She was nonstop. I inserted excuse me do you know the difference between pain and uncomfortable? I do. She rambled on about how the smoke free law was not made for multi-dwelling units. I said, I have the smoke free law of 2002 and the one from 28 years before that and they certainly do cover multi-dwelling units. I so wanted to say I guess I’ll have to call the mayor at home again. Geekboy says the phone is not really at the mayor’s home. I wonder if he has a butler. I should like to talk to the butler. To end our conversation I said I will be most grateful for whatever non-conclusory material you can provide me on our past conversations.

Then … I have a friend in Czech Republic who says there is no way smoke can get in my apartment. He says everyone has problems, you aren’t the only one. I say yes everyone has problems they can deal with, my hands are tied. I am sure everyone else gets to breathe clean air, at least where you live.

I was a very tremendously healthy person before I moved into that Morningside apartment. The tenant knew full well smokers had been in the room, drugs had been in the room and she knew full well there were die hard illegal smokers in the public areas. She never mentioned it, she just watched as I started to die an early death. It was only later, after my ER visit and spitting up of blood, after she was shook up, that she admitted that there was second hand smoke coming from the stairs to the roof of the walk up. And she did ferret out all those smoking monkeys. See Antichump Manifesto – Day #1.

I read an article today that stated:

” Just 30 minutes in a smoky room can cause profound blood vessel injury in healthy young adults, greatly increasing the risk of cardiovascular disease, according to a new study published in the May 6 issue of the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.”

So I told yet another friend, Mr. Ibe, what Mr. Czech said. He said, miss I was going to tell you that but I was afraid. I said yes you should be afraid because you would be saying that I have no right to breathe. He was saying look how another one of our friends is living. I said I don’t need to look. I lived in the same apartment with her. I paid more and I had less. She smoked. That’s one of the reasons why I had to move besides just being frozen to death. So what is your point?

Look, five freaking years ago my sculpture teacher saw me as a great talent enough to refer me to a major museum curator. She would say just sit two hours an evening and work and within two weeks you’ll have your show. I told her its not about not having space, its about not having air. Its just not possible right now. This poverty state that I am in is taking me backwards, way back.

For sure the next place I get I am turning on all the faucets, looking at all the baseboards, looking at all the floors with my nose to them, turning on the light so I can see that indeed they did not paint as they said they did instead they patched holes everywhere. Looking at the toilet seat and the toothbrush holder and hopefully they don’t have either. Asking them for the receipt that they changed the lock’s cylinder. Asking if a smoker lived there before and before him. In this apartment smokers lived here the past two tenancies, one had Huntington’s disease, a disease caused by smoking. I found that out through my most thorough investigations for this case. If the apartment does not have a window gate on the fire escape I am not taking it.

Its a good thing the market can now bear such a picky renter or buyer. Even last year when I got this place I was paying $400 too much for the area and condition, but I assured myself, he said there is no problem with cigarette smoke. I am paying for that.

I did so like living close to the Cloisters. Its really neat to look at the Fort Washington Bridge so close and this part of the Hudson River. Oh well. Unbedazzle me. I have been looking for regutted apartments the past two months and I am finding them for $1000-$1200, they are far better than this apartment.

On July 30, 2008 I have a choice to get an injunction against all the smokers in my building or to say may I just leave now, this very absolute minute and please give me a check for the attached list of losses I have incurred. I think I will take the latter choice in civil. In HUD the fight will be for the right that was due me, it might help the next person who might take this apartment. It might make the landlord change his mindset. That is why I am doing the two cases. Lose, not on your life, buddy.

So Mr. Ibe says Miss, I am going to testify for you in court and I am going to put my fist down hard on the table and say an apartment must be breathable! give this woman justice!


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