Sincerest of apologies for the 2 week delay on a new Friday Release, but my keyboard was giving me problems, so I had to "put it down"--like the rest of my malfunctioning electronics that have gone before the keyboard. Whether they are fixable or permanently damaged matters not...not to me at least; a kink in the hose is a kink in the hose.
My system, once the appliance or piece of equipment becomes troublesome, is to wish it well and hurl it Earth-bound from my 4th floor fire escape...and with an appreciative salute, looking down below at all the smashed bits and pieces, I give silent but sincere thanks for all the good times we once had together. Then I run back indoors before anyone can identify the "maniac" who almost regularly whips microwaves, stereo systems, remote controls, dvd players ( they are my favorite ones to put an end to) and various computer equipment from someplace high up on the side of the building. Onward...
It's Monday around 7 AM , 8/31 in this tiring year of 2009, and I can already feel the summer slipping out of the city. Just me and a few other half-asleep early morning commuters humming down Lawrence Ave. on the 81 bus, and I'm just trying to rationalize the madness that has ensued this last few weeks.
It was the last week of August, to boot, which has always been a king-hell loser of a month, and also the hands-down unluckiest page on the 12 month calendar.
My old band even wrote one of our most "popular" songs: "Unlucky August". I would surely be one of the first to sign a petition calling for the exile of August from the calendar year, and, for safety's sake, close all successful businesses during the time period that used to be August, close all schools, individually quarantine those involved in happy relationships as to avoid their impending blow-up argument or total demise-- due to the month, the cruel bastard August.
But the curse of August (and truly, no offense to those born in August), is too large a nut to crack here and now. I'll just say, that IF there were a particular time of year to avoid-- it would be August. Especially when you're like me... going through an eviction, scrambling to get enough cash together, looking to find a new apartment to let you in, while trying to get packed and moved while neither me or my girlfriend have any common days off work together--making scheduling an easy moving date im-fucking-possible.
For my relatively young age, 29, I've had a vast array of living arrangements--studio apartments, 1-4 bedroom apartments, and 2 condos. I've stayed with friends, lived alone, lived with 6 roommates. Lived in a skyscraper in downtown Chicago, lived in old swamp land in Florida. I've stayed in shacks and mansions of all types. I've lived on a farm. I've spent alot of time on the road traveling with bands as well, which, after awhile, the in and out of towns for weeks on end starts to feel like something similar to moving.
Anyways, Ashley and I think we found an apartment...luckily the judge in courtroom 106 downtown gave us a couple of weeks to scram...so, I figure I'll depart with writing a letter to my landlord--just to get some things out in the open since I'm leaving anyways.
To: Mary Burlsberg
I've never been the best tenant for landlords; as I am loud, constantly overpopulating my apartment with boisterous, chemically impaired guests, loudly sexually active, and, saving the best for last, typically broke and unable to always pay rent promptly.
But sweet Jesus--when I moved into your building, being a defunct 1930's era historically- certified Capone brothel, my first act after moving in was to trap one mouse in my bathroom, and cold-bloodily murder another with a dictionary.(I was calling myself a murderer for weeks, in shame). In addition, I also had to find a way to stop myself and my food supply from being decimated by the live-in battalion of both Red American and Asian cockroaches, so I thought for sure I'd get a little flexibility from the management.
Secondly, I surely didn't know about the buildings' geriatric mafia-like organization; 80+ year old citizens who lurk in the dark places of the building ready to ask personal questions or eyeball fuck my girlfriend at any time. For a moment, I was looking into group rates, with a discount of course, on castration procedures for the lot of them; but at their age not only don't they use "it", but it was simply out of my range of financial options.
You collect their rent (or do you?)...So you obviously know Fred. Fred (possibly the "GodFather"to the organization) actually demanded monthly extortion money out of me for "laundry room protection", claiming the he'd "hate to see anything go missing or happen to my clothes while they were in his "territory". To this I paid little attention until I went to get my clothes out of the dryer, and several of my left socks were gone. I noticed the laundry gangster starring at me so I went over and asked if he'd seen anyone near the dryer I was using.
"Sorry fella" he said, "never failed to surprise me just how much stuff disappears doing laundry..whats missing? Some socks?"
I wasn't buying his bullshit.
He continued, "Next thing you know a shirt or nice pair of slacks will up and grow legs on ya."
Although this was both humorous and worrisome--I decided to take action. For days I stalked those who I knew or believed to be involved. But as you can imagine, waiting to witness, in-person, a group of octogenarians committing a crime or planning a heist was truly like watching paint dry. So I decided to cut to the chase and go straight to the laundry terrorist himself--close to 90 years old with a voice box, rickety cane, and that uninviting odor of a nursing home. Which, in hindsight made me realize people don't smell like nursing homes--nursing homes stink like the people.
"So whats the racket?" I asked Fred.
The old bastard acted like he had no idea what I was talking about. Shit, I thought, is he trying to be clever or is this poor old fucker suffering from dementia?
A couple of days later ALL my damn socks vanished from my load of laundry. So, I grudgingly agreed to the steep $7/week protection payments he had originally offered-which really I suppose at $1 a day is a great deal to keep my undergarments safe. Fuck it, I thought. And since then, no other items have gone missing. Only in Chicago, in an old ex-Capone operated building, could an elderly mob organization have the balls to extort for "laundry room protection" , but better to be safe than sorry in the windy city.
Oh and yeah, I don't like being asked if "I've been drinking". Firstly, because I work 15 hour days, and thats why I'm usually red-eyed and exhausted. But mainly because I don't drink. Never-the-less, you'd ask me on a semi-regular basis. No, god damn it, I have not been drinking... and even if I had told you what I had been doing, at your age you'd never understand anyways.
"No, ma'am, no booze," I'd cackle, "but I did just twist up a 'B' to bring back all the benzos I ate earlier, and in about 15 minutes I'll be rolling ( ROLLING BALLS! I think to myself)-and I'm no threat to you." Which I'd say calmly as I extend my arms for a hug.
Having to break it all down would've killed my damn roll so I decided to fuck the wordy explanation for your sake, not out of shame or embarrassment.
Then there was the burglary. Ahh... and a frosty rage creeps over me at the mere mention. Let's see. Anyone who lives in this building knows there are no less than 4 members of the said gorilla faction of old folks lounging the day away in the lobby at any given time between 7am and 6 pm. My apartment was broken into and robbed between 1 & 3pm-- so I would love to know, how exactly did none of the seniors I interrogated see a damn thing when they are, in fact, perched all day long in a semi circle around the only publicly accessible door to the entire building?
A hum- fucking-dinger, huh? The perpetrator had to get into the building, break into my place, and go in and out of the building at least two more times-even with a partner, to carry all the shit out. Even if it was a tenant of the building, wouldn't they have been spotted or asked where they were going with all their stuff? Maybe there was a studio apartment protection tax I was not aware of. Either way, all our things are gone.
Shit, at this point do we even need to get into the bed-bug incident(s)?! To which, in honesty you were helpful and sympathetic, but never the less a nightmare of a situation when they did happen. But since the bedbugs have been effectively driven from the land of apt. 204-- I guess I I'll drop it...nearly... teeny, horribly itchy, red bites mysteriously appearing all over me and my girlfriend, and blood marks on the sheets!! OK ...I'm done now for real.
I suppose I'll just wrap it up by saying: we quite possibly never should've crossed paths-or maybe it was twisted fate. And out of all the bullshit-- late rent, 5 day notices, and the never-ending cloud of pot smoke seeping out from under my door-I'm glad I had you for a landlord. You've been more than accommodating and above all, helped me keep my home in your building for the better part of 6 years. And, for that, you have my thanks...and I wont soon forget my years on Virginia Ave.
Sincerely-your worst tenant,
National Affairs Desk, Chicago