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Friday, December 29, 2006

Songs for the Four Corners of the Room

"Keep Trying" is one.

"Squares One through Four" (another title for the "Square One/Set the Prisoners Free" Song) is another.

For now "Chimney Flu/Heigh Ho" can be the two others.

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The conclusion of the assignment of a counting numeral is always an opportunity to examine all that it contains, and the year 2006 is no exception.

Well, for now there is too much hidden meaning in everything I write for me to write an assessment of the year that was. Suffice it to say, in addition to turning a national election tide, and a low level grade of generalized optimism bolstered by a return to interpersonal enlightenment (how upbeat can I be?), 2006 was eventful on a personal level.

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In the One Dream stage production of "Legs Like These," in 1989, the director suggested that all the participants would find each other and marry. In retrospect, I see something like that happened to four of them. I wonder how they are today. That composing job for me arose from a recommendation from one of my fellow participants in the BMI Music Theatre Workshop, and it was great challenging fun...

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In case it is not already apparent, I have been ploughing through the Memoirs of Tennesse Williams (Tennessee Williams Memoirs "A raw display of private life"--New York Times Book Review), actually reading them after all these years, thanks to Mr. John Waters' recent essay published in the New York Times Book Review. Previously I'd only opened to the index to find some fragment, particularly those on Williams' collaborations with one of the guiding forces of Italian Cinema, Luchino Visconti (What a name that fellow had! It just looks great as a title on the screen.). Tennesse Williams has a credit in Visconti's Senso, a vaguely annoying Italian Nationalism period story of the choice, such as it is, between military glory in the field of battle and cowardice in the field of the bedroom, with tennis player Farley Granger. I guess that story is an expression and examination of challenging human conditions. Furthermore, I guess the weight of Visconti's name connects with the weight of his work product. He was an independent Hollywood. Mr. Williams' book touches briefly on how TW got or gave the film that gratis TW credit; it was in appreciation to LV for making a woman named Maria part of the production. The comprehension test question for readers of the Memoirs is, Who was Maria?

Obviously at this rate I'll never get to a full examination of the Memoirs, which I imagine myself comprehending, so consider this fingernail journal entry something containing the DNA strand to generate an entire human body, living, breathing, interactive. So, thank you, John Waters, for alerting me to the readability of Tennessee Williams Memoirs, illustrative of the personal breakthrough that followed his hobo years. It looks like he used his heart problem to good effect in that it got him, not just out of gym class the way mine did, but out of his job as a shoe salesman.

That's one 2006 personal event worth mentioning, after all those years ingesting oral beta blockers I never had a heart problem. My debilitating palpitations break when I do the opposite of cringe and wilt into them, which is to stick out my chest in silly defiance.

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Thursday, November 09, 2006

I saw 54 televised minutes of Mel Gibson's Aramaic Passion Play before becoming completely disagreeable. I love the blue beginning and very much enjoyed seeing a soldier's torch add spectacular color to the blue. It was also a pleasure to welcome back the demons in the desert. I suppose they are always out there, waiting for our imaginations.

It is my recollection that the messiah is indeed supposed to be coming, if he hasn't come already, and many have claimed they were he... Sabattai Zevi is my favorite. What is this coming of the messiah? It accomplishes what? Given expectation of one, it is understandable that when one of us among us takes on the title for him or her self that we might become disillusioned and pissed off from the elevated hopes and inevitable disappointment.

Only the heights of salvation can achieve the depths of despair. Who else wants to claim messiah status? And remind me, what good will the messiah do again? Perhaps his or her coming will release the tension I feel compelling me to write this. Although Paul's success with Rome is undeniable, Mr. Gibson's film is a great reminder that Christianity is a sect of judaism.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Briefly with regard to visiting West Point, I only cried twice, once after the recruiter urged the posthumous white star recognition for his close friend's father... They pinned it on the soldeir in the battlefield, and wouldn't acknowledge it thereafter. Witnesses still live to confirm... To the children surrounding him as we walked by, overhearing, spellbound by his extemporaneous speech, he said join if you're devoted and passionate, beyond the ability... have the willingness to give yourself. You can take the man out of the military but you can't take the military out of the man.

He walked off with a limp...

It was homecoming for the graduates of 1981, of which I was one, FROM QUEENS COLLEGE, a City University, not a military academy....

The morning tatou of chopper-dropped paratroupers, guiding their chutes as they descended, surfing to the parade field on purple smoke streams, then the afternoon football game where Army mostly loses to dedicated football universities; you see, career football players get a better deal at Ohio's Kent State, but Kent State lost by three points in overtime as the kicked football came sailing at us in the sun.

The Kent State/National Guard incident occurred on May 4th, 1970. It went into Watergate Overtime.

OK, the Army team is called "The Black Knights," no, not Black Nights of the Soul. They have two mascots, the helmutted comic book black knight and the buff mule, muscles rippling washerboard style on the suffocating costume... no problem wearing those outfits for the cadets... the cheerleading girls with black warpaint on their cheeks, throwing themselves across the sidefield, bouncing, flipping, bouncing, moving fast forward, always landing on their feet.

Then the mules parade out during half-time... "A mule is the issueless offspring of a horse and a donkey..." The half-time orchestra covered "Hey Jude."

The great orchestra is sitting in the stands with percussion and horns, playing throughout the game.

Yellow low level horns blow out burial ground elephant calls. The cadets do their push-ups on the field at a touchdown. The girls flap their arms, tiny dancers standing on the the outstretched hands of the strong men.

They played against the Golden Flashes...the name of the Kent State football team.

So The Black Knights beat the Golden Flashes. !!!

Greeting the arriving freshman, blasting Linkin Park, the Eagles, Zeppeline, Modest Mouse... beer and an aromatic Bar-B-Q!

High School graduating military devotees, get to know your congressperson. Each member of congress selects two enrollees a year.

For those black nights of the soul, Bushnell Night Vision! View photons on a phosphorescent screen.

Free army visor with a completed Visa application, and you'll need the visor for the sun.

All the fodder for a wonderful essay, right here in semi-comprehensible phrase scraps... Thank you.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

100% Community Betrayal

I actually love watching baseball but the pro-leagues lost me during a strike the teams held some time ago.

Sorry this is so late but today's groundbreaking is like hitting me over the head with a hammer.

The young audience members at Yankee Stadium can take their bats and balls and catchers mits and go out to the fields of Maccombs Dam Park, their PUBLIC PARK, where they can play their own game, learn from the pros across the way and maybe someday, themselves play in the big league stadium next door...Yippee! Oh, no, this sport is for professionals. Let's build a new stadium where the park is and give the local kids the old stadium as a memorial to baseball embalmed.

This concludes the credibility of the very well spoken and intelligent Mayor Bloomberg.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Enough moaning. The serious issue of "tenancy and home" needs to stabilize in fairness to all parties, but with regard to my own living quarters, thank you for your kind consideration. Now it's up to me to make it work.

Meanwhile, welcome, another million people, to the population of New York City!

Guess who loves New York? I do. Peter Dizozza

Monday, July 24, 2006

The 315-321 East 12th Street buildings are just east of the Elizabeth Home for Girls.

Let's see the old map.

Stuyvesant's farm extended to Tompkins Square Park.

His street, the one that bisects the East 9th and 10th Street grid between 2nd and 3rd Avenues (where St. Marks Church is) bisects East 11th and East 12th between 1st and 2nd.

Oh, I can read the map now! What a wild goose chase. All this time I thought the map read "St. Marlos," it actually reads "St. Marks."

Stuvesant street ran along the border of St. Marks Cemetery. My apartment is built over the North corner diamond of old St. Marks Cemetery...

That makes much more sense.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

July 23, 2006

Dear Sir:

I am having another sleepless night here in your apartment.

Does government rent regulation law so forcibly affect your speculation plans that you must make a “free market” offer to your unregulated tenant that is that much more financially debilitating?

You are forcing me to buy or leave my home of 17 years without regard to what I can afford because it is what the letter of the law allows.

You are acting within the letter of the law even though my apartment is part of the 86% of shares in a “non-eviction” cooperative residence plan that have remained unsold for 17 years while the real estate market rose precipitously, and while the tenant therein, me was ever told he could only rent, never buy.

You, as incorporator of an LLC formed to be the third “purchaser” of UNSOLD shares, pay a monthly maintenance of $872, to yourself as managing agent, while I pay $1,625 to you.

Although in your final offer you allege to have “shot your wad,” and “tapped yourself dry,” please note that in order to fulfill upon your offer, I must do the following:

Because I can only pay $75,000 of your purchase price, I ask a bank willing to underwrite mortgages in a less-than-51% owner/occupied building to lend me the rest.

After closing, my monthly payment will be $872 to you and $3,128 to the bank.

Rather than paying $1,625 a month, nearly double your maintenance cost, I will pay, at a minimum, $4,200 a month, for the next 30 years.

If that is your idea of free market negotiations with people and their homes, then re-exam the GBL Article 23-A language, which you swore the attorney general you would uphold. This is the same language you say housing judges in Manhattan will ignore based on an appellate term decision involving a tenant who took possession of an apartment 5 years after it went "Condo."

First let's look at a dictionary.
The holder of UNSOLD shares in cooperative corporation is NOT a PURCHASER:
"Sold" means "to be purchased."

You swore to the attorney general to comply with this language.

GENERAL BUSINESS LAW
ARTICLE 23-A. FRAUDULENT PRACTICES IN RESPECT TO STOCKS, BONDS AND OTHER SECURITIES

NY CLS Gen Bus § 352-eeee (2006)

§ 352-eeee. [Expires June 15, 2011] Conversions to cooperative or condominium ownership in the city of New York

1. (e) "Non-purchasing tenant". A person who has not purchased under the plan and who is a tenant entitled to possession at the time the plan is declared effective or a person to whom a dwelling unit is rented subsequent to the effective date. A person who sublets a dwelling unit from a purchaser under the plan shall not be deemed a non-purchasing tenant.

2. (ii) No eviction proceedings will be commenced at any time against non-purchasing tenants for failure to purchase or any other reason applicable to expiration of tenancy; ...
(iv) The rentals of non-purchasing tenants who reside in dwelling units not subject to government regulation as to rentals and continued occupancy and non-purchasing tenants who reside in dwelling units with respect to which government regulation as to rentals and continued occupancy is eliminated or becomes inapplicable after the plan has been accepted for filing by the attorney general shall not be subject to unconscionable increases beyond ordinary rentals for comparable apartments during the period of their occupancy. In determining comparability, consideration shall be given to such factors as building services, level of maintenance and operating expenses.

187 Misc. 2d 243; 721 N.Y.S.2d 459;
2000 N.Y. Misc. 573,
Park West Village Associates, Respondent, v. Chiyoko Nishoika, Appellant, et al., Respondents.
# 99-562
SUPREME COURT OF NEW YORK, APPELLATE TERM, FIRST DEPARTMENT
187 Misc. 2d 243; 721 N.Y.S.2d 459; 2000 N.Y. Misc. 573
October 26, 2000, Decided
LEXIS OVERVIEW: Appellant entered into possession of the apartment at issue under a lease agreement five years after the residential building premises underwent a non-eviction type conversion to condominium ownership. The lease agreement expired, and respondent landlord brought a holdover action. The appellate court held that, in light of the legislative purpose underlying § 352-eeee, appellant's post-conversion leasehold did not fall within the statute's reach.

Friday, July 21, 2006

"Tryin' to make a dollar out of thirty-two cents."

In purchasing the shares entitling me to lease my apartment, financial debilitation is not my only concern. I asked the seller's attorney for permission to review the coop minutes for the last three years. She referred me to the anthropologist who sold his interest in the building's unsold shares after his decade of using them for rent income.

Six months after selling (and not to me, I might add), he still attends the coop meetings. His Park Square Associates are still the managing agent for the building, although Arthur, sole principal of the newly formed LLCs created to buy the unsold 86% of the building's coop shares, is president of his own perfectly good managing agent company, ABC Realty.

A great luxury renovation is to commence upon the facade and hallways of this six story walk-up. Who will be in charge? Will it be someone sensitive to cosmetics or to the long-term residential aspect of the building?

And speaking of quiet enjoyment, one of the traditions of this landmark lower east side six-story tenement neighborhood and of this building in particular is its ever potential structural demolition via sound-waves from the floor to ceiling speakers connected to the dj system in the cellar.

It is notable to consider the success of sonic defense weaponry in warding off pirates on the high seas. Apparently a well-aimed sound blast can trip a heart attack.

Could there not also be a frequency, which only floor-to-ceiling speakers ensconsed against the cellar walls are capable of amplifying, that compromises a building's support foundation?

Every solid object has a rattle note.

Are low frequency sound waves what produce the layer of white dust here, or is it the pneumatic renovation drills?

This building celebrates its centeniary, but the land beneath it has a much longer past and I have some maps that will help decipher it.

As for the great WPA movie personifying a tenement building -- giving it a life of its own, so to speak -- I recommend, at every opportunity, seeing Sylvia Sydney play an activist who does her best to care for her increasingly demented younger brother, played by Sidney Lumet, in "One Third of a Nation."
One of the benefits from reading the writing of Hannah Arendt is her unleashing of the English language as instructive. As I found myself saying with my limited reading of the works of Freud, I would call her writing Great Literature.

And I'm, of course, currently in the enviable position of feeling pressure from human forces external to me, which excites the hell out of me if, if, if, I CAN WRITE ABOUT IT.

For previous chapters in my East Village Residency I refer you to the controversial song cycle with monologues and mini-play entitled, "Pro-Choice on Mental Health." For an update on the contact address listed on that album, 321 East 12th Street, Apartment #8, look no further. Here's the story thusfar.

The Rhodes Scholar anthropologist investors for Oscar Gruss were the first to buy my home's unsold securities, in 1995. These Gruss wonderkids are the two Michaels who put the Lenin statue on top of Red Sqaure (It's a Beetlejuice-designer building on Houston Street). Although Michael Rosen is the more published Pace University Professor, the memories burned in my mind are with my encounters with the furtive Michael Shaoul in 1995 after he sent me a lease renewal nearly doubling the rent I was paying.

Watching my friends move out (Under unregulated leases they were being subjected to eviction and unconsciounable rent increases from a generically named managing agent, "Park Sqaure Associates.") I said, sell it to me, but they would only rent, never sell, which they did for 10 years. After coming to terms on the lease, in fact, most fairly, I remained for the eventful decade that brings us up to the present.

They really were pretty fair, although there had to come a time when they cut off personal communication.

During our meetings, Michael Shaoul was not at all devoid of appreciation for my artistic side with my monthly piano set at SideWalk, and my theatre work at La Mama, then of my liaison work with the City organizing the East Village Singer/Songwriters' yearly outdoor concert in Tompkins Square Park (This year it is Saturday, August 12th.)

My rent under Bernadette Mineo's lease in 1989 was $789. In 17 years it went up to $1,625, which I currently pay, Month-to-Month, so I am a testiment to the possibilities of a free market tenant/landlord relationship. Yes, the identical shares (numbering between 1440 and 1470) assigned to apartments currently under rent regulation therein are, well, let's see the schedule. $197, 631, 526, 741, 305, 132, 628. hmmm... and the monthly maintenance assigned to those shares is between 836 and 884. So at least my rent payment is covering the maintenance paid by the purchaser of unsold shares plus $753 a month, said 753 going where? It is paid to the MANAGING AGENT, the same people who under an LLC are the holders of the unsold shares.

In a coop conversion, the Landlord sells his building to a corporation, then, under his own corporate name, may buy UNSOLD shares in the corporation. If he vows "non-eviction" he may buy as much as 85% of the building, thereby getting that 1903 built tenement building out of government monitored rent regulation.

Since the landlord became the holder of UNSOLD shares, the appelate term court in Manhattan contorted the conclusion that he is a PURCHASER under his "plan," and therefore no longer bound to his non-eviction promise to his post conversion tenants.
(The appelate term applied NOT the language of the General Business Law governing coop securites, but rather the legislative INTENT producing it...)

The words applied to such a transaction look like this: With a closing date of October 29th, 1989, 315 East 12th Street Associates sold its building to 315-321 Apartment Corp., a corporation in which they momentarily sell 15% and hold unsold 85%of the shares. They will eventually hold 86% after they foreclose on the purchasers who were over-optomistic about paying the monthly debt service and maintenance, taking back AS UNSOLD those purchased shares that helped qualify for the conversion.

This foreclosure, of course, refers back to the Keith Feibush story in "Pro-Choice on Mental Health."

I saw Law Review articles on illusory coops suggesting that 10 years of pure rental activity raises the inference: Cooperative Apartment Plan Abandondoned.

At the 10 year mark, Oscar Gruss/Park Square Associates/PSA 321 East 12th Street LLC sold its unsold shares to Arthur Cornfeld/East 12th Street, LLC/ABC Properties/ABC Realty. The tenement's going luxury. It's time for me to buy or vacate. The market's getting shaky, look at those interest rates, look at that glut of new apartments and conversions. Forget about yesterday. TODAY, the gatekeeper standing in the doorway between me and my home is selling.

My current calculation for my lowest monthly debt service and maintenance nut for the next 30 years after a $75,000 downpayment is $4,200.

How did I come to live on East 12th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenue on the isle of Manhattan? What am I doing here? Why does the value of the US dollar and money in general continue a precipitous decline without anyone noticing?

Let's consider all that in the next installment.

My albums, including "Pro-Choice on Mental Health," are available through itunes, CD Baby, antifolk.net, olivejuicemusic.com and Amazon.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

People call me with bizarre problems, because I work as an attorney, an associate at a law firm specializing in personal injury, particularly those arising out of motor vehicle accidents. What a bizarre accident I just heard about. Driver and passenger in a car were having an argument when its passenger pulled the emergency brake (lovers' quarrel, accusations of betrayal and infidelity?), this on the West Side Highway near dawn, while the car behind them was doing 80.

All miraculously sustained minimal injuries in this short stop rear-end highway smash-up. Amen.

I listened, I shared my experience, but when push comes to shove, what are my skills? Jerry, successfully settling at trial today, reminded me he can make people look bad under cross examination. He's a former legal aid trial attorney who has discounted testimony from the toughest witnesses the prosecution could offer. I suppose he has a gift that threatens, that results in the profitable outcome once he reaches the standoff, the front lines of the battle.

That ability to threaten victory under pressure sustains the office where I work, paying the salary for me and his seven other employees, even as we sustain him, sending him forward to that crisis point.

My results tend to be considerably less threatening, unless I threaten people with my thinking about them.

What can I do that no one else can?

Let's see, I can absorb and tolerate worry and aggravation as I "happ'ly wait for my next happy moment."

What are my goals? James Chladek, during my 15 minute New Yorker interview last night, asked, where do I see myself in five years? I said, I see myself living in Manhattan, with my shows running with lives of their own, and a country place to work and raise a growing family with my loved one.

Well, facing eviction or financial debilitation, I acknowledge that, in fear of ridicule, I have ridiculed just about everything I could have held sacred in my life,

Even the term "loved one" used above carries with it the funeral director's dearly departed connotation...

My life, my priorities, my loves... my belief is, they, me, everyone, we all withstand ridicule.

I was bullied as a child. I never reached the stand-off. I ran home, then resented my parents when they lost faith in my ability to take care of myself.

Wounded, I act wounded, attracting the similarly wounded and sometimes appearing to reject what I perceive to be their wounded offer of assistance. I'm afraid.

I read on a church's outdoor marquee during last week's Jitney ride, and I paraphrase with my usual gift of faulty memory: "Jump. Sometimes you have to build your parachute on the way down."

Then the song reprise begins. "We're in this love together."

We are all in this universe together.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Hello. Yes, I continue to be Up In Arms... "Up In Arms" is the title of Danny Kaye's first film, and probably the only time his manic energy was matched/tempered/balanced by a uniquely musical female lead, Dinah Shore.

Look, I've been dealing with pressure from work and the apartment and all I ask Dick Parsons to provide for my 144 dollar a month cable bill on the rare occasion when I would sit down for more than an hour and relax and actually watch something worth watching coming from the premium digital cable television, is that his cable provide an uninterrupted digital stream broadcast, not this jamming and scrambling of random stills and missynched sound that Turner Classic Movie Station broadcasted last night from 8PM to 9:30....

Manic Depressive Pictures Presents
"Hello, Fresno. Goodbye!"
Produced by Manic
Directed by Depressive
And hopelessly jumbled by Time Warner Cable's premium digital television stream.

As for the increasing homogeneity of media content, gentle readers, please, another time...

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Movie Experience at the Film Forum, Febrary 7th, 2006

So often, my backlog of interests guides my actions, such as wanting to see all the films of James Whale and Val Lewton, and I’ve at least heard of the director, Edgar Ulmer. A film of each comprised the triple feature at Film Forum last Tuesday during the Karloff festival. One present day development comes to mind, my preference for stories told in an hour and fifteen minutes. I suppose the more gruesome the subject matter, the shorter the better. It’s amazing how eventful the time can be. Ultimately, though, I did spend four and a half hours at the movies, basking in the reflected glory of 35mm prints, one, The Old Dark House, from the archives of our own Library of Congress!

I intended to miss “The Black Cat” and when I arrived there, that was the one starting.

When I bought a ticket at 2:40 they warned me that the theatre was almost full. When I left at 7 a crowd of people waited to get in and the line for standby tickets extended half the block.

The art deco home of an architect portrayed by Karloff, built atop the remains of a fort that 10,000 people defended to the death, made use of overhead fluorescent light, giving the actors from the 1930’s a shadowless pallor, as if they were in a bland office of today.

Boris’s reward for his nasty behavior toward his guests and colleagues was to be stripped to the waist and flayed by Bela Lugosi.

In a parlor with a bay window overlooking the Alps, this film, “The Black Cat,” staged a chess match for the lives of the young couple, so “The Seventh Seal” of Ingmar Bergman comes to mind.

I want everything to be pleasant and harmonious, yet it remains my intention to make a horror film, so I found these films to be worthwhile. I justify fantasizing by adding conflict to the fantasy. I deny myself what I want for purpose of exploration and growth, yet I’m too frightened to actually live conflict. I’m simply considering an invented reality, such as a novel or a movie, or an audio recording.

In the Maxfield Parish Elysium I put a snake in the grass just to keep it real. Dave Chapelle shared, in a 2004 rerun last night, what happens when keeping it real goes really wrong.

The fly in the ointment.

In Storm Cloud I pretended I was famous through an alter ego, Kevin Vargas, but chose to explore giving him everything I wanted by adding a fear of exposure to the fame, yes, in the ugliest way possible. Sure the casualty is supposed to be a misunderstanding, but someone in his film Dies and the unpleasantess, the reality of the fantasy goes well beyond my capabilities.

The Robert Wise adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Body Snatchers was gruesome. Take me back to Disneyland! The Satanism of the Black Cat is consistent. Guess what, facilitating destruction upon others brings it ten-fold upon oneself. That’s easy. I’m not entirely convinced Karloff didn’t want to be flayed by Lugosi.

I actually want peace and harmony, which I see existing in nature. The mere finding of a cause worth dying for is enough to call the confrontation upon oneself.

There is a crossover into beauty one finds in a horror film that may be worth exploring, but what are the emotions that support it? Has the director crossed over into an embrace of nastiness? I haven’t seen “Carrie” for many years but I recall how utterly hilarious I found the hand reaching from the rubble matching the hand from (Amy Irving’s) mother, and the music pounding away. In retrospect I’ll call the Carrie finale a reasonable victim backlash. It’s a warning of victim victorious, with the caveat that the expedient way to put destruction to rest is to put all its participants to rest.