Apartments, landlords, jobs

keys-20120131New York Erratic, who needs to use her blog as therapy more often, wants to know:

Who was your worst landlord ever?

I’ve lived in over 30 apartments in my life, and most of the landlords I don’t much remember, one way or another. I suppose I can name the ones who I got miffed with:

The one on Ontario Street in Albany in the mid-1980s who did not take seriously the invasion of mice in the apartment, shortly after my girlfriend at the time and I moved in. This wasn’t a rodent or two; they were quite numerous. And aggressive. One found its way into our noodles that were on top of the refrigerator. I set traps and killed three or four every night for at least a week and a half, and one or two a night for another week or so, before the mice got the memo not to come inside any more.

One place I liked on Lancaster Street in Albany, the landlord threw everyone out, including these nice old ladies who had lived there for about 30 years. He renovated it, and it is now a chichi place that recently got mentioned in the real estate section of the local paper.

Worst apartment you ever stayed in?

Worst apartment was probably the first apartment the Okie and I moved into in Kingston, NY after we were married. Not only was the pullout sofa terribly uncomfortable, we discovered that first night approximately a zillion cockroaches. I had never seen a roach before, and was not savvy as to the telltale signs of their droppings. I believe we were there for eight weeks.

Although the first real apartment in Schenectady, after Uthaclena’s then-wife threw me out of theirs, was a real dump. I was there for three or four months.

Best apartment and landlord?

I really did like that basement apartment on Lancaster. It was narrow but deep; I think they called it a train apartment.

Aside from that, though, my favorite had to be Second Street in Albany in the late 1980s. It was an odd space in that, when you walked into the apartment on the first floor, you were in the kitchen. But I liked it. And it was the easiest place to move into because it had an enclosed back porch. This means I could put all my books and LPs on the porch, position the book cases and record stands, then put away said tomes and albums at my leisure. The landlord couple was really nice.

Also, I was really taken by the sunken living room at an apartment on Morris Street in Albany. Unfortunately, the landlord decided to move from wherever to that apartment, and we had to move upstairs. And WORST MOVE EVER, because we were slowly schlepping our stuff up the stairs and it seemed to take FOREVER. The landlord I do remember getting along with quite well, listening to Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson together.

Must admit I was also fond of an apartment complex in New Paltz called Colonial Arms. For mass housing, it was rather nice.

What was your favorite job ever?

At some level, it had to be my job with the Schenectady Arts Council from March 1978 to January 1979. I was hired, ostensibly, to do the bookkeeping. Straight off, though, the office staff was making phone calls to sell ads for a performance to benefit Proctors Theatre, the old, rundown vaudeville theater where our offices were located. Now it’s a jewel of downtown Schenectady.

Even got to sing at the benefit, in the arcade, with Susan, the secretary, and a couple of her friends. All the artists on staff were doing art in the schools and in the broader community, so Susan decided that she and I should go to nursing homes and sing, and we did.

Occasionally, the choreographer, Darlene, needed a dance partner when she went to the schools and she hookwinked asked me to accompany her.

I ran an Artisans’ Arcade fortnightly, which was fun, though a LOT of work.

Because the director, Paul, was more an artist type – he was an actor by trade – he hated dealing with the blue-haired ladies of Arts Council board, and he often left it to me or the program coordinator, Nancy, to deal with them. When he decided to go on vacation, even though we HAD no vacation, I was in charge in his absence.

I was very sad when the federal funding abruptly ran out.

I should note, however, that I learned a great deal working at FantaCo, the comic book store/mail order house/convention operator/publisher/distributor in Albany, and that has value to me.

What was the nicest group of people you’ve ever worked with?

It occurs to me that, because I was at FantaCo for 8.5 years, and the SBDC for 21.7 years, and counting, that for all sorts of reasons, the personalities changed quite a bit over time. So I’ll opt for the Arts Council staff. Not sure they were all nice; one of the sculptors was probably crazy, but I liked him. I was just looking at the staff photo a couple weeks ago.

Library people, in general, are nice, but there was one library boss of three years I didn’t particularly get along with. And there was that two-year period when our whole organization was subsumed by this incompetent and evil external political beast, which, fortunately, had a very public takedown.

FantaCo was almost two different places, before Mitch was fired/Raoul died in 1983, and afterwards. I liked almost all of them, but it was very tough leaving, and I HAD to go because I was ODing on the horror film stuff, which wasn’t my thing.

I should note that one of the worst places I worked was Binghamton City Hall in the spring of 1975, when I dropped out of college. Part of my job was to empty the wastebaskets of the local cops, and they seemed to have disdain for the lowly janitor. The sole exception was the local captain, who engaged me in interesting conversation.

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