Last week I was leaving my building when I saw my doorman Frank carrying two black guitar cases through the lobby. He was followed by a man who looked very similar to Elvis Costello. I live in the West Village in Manhattan, so every man looks like Elvis Costello. Later that evening I asked Mario, the other doorman, – was that him? Why would he be in the building? Turns out, it was Elvis Costello and he’s moved in.
“There probably wasn’t anything available up the block,” my friend Laura offers, as though stating the obvious. Up the block sits a Fifth Avenue style pre-war building. Isaac Mizrahi lives there. “Or maybe he just uses it for his equipment. You know – like a storage space.”
My building is very convenient – it’s got affable doormen, a great super, and a spacious laundry room in the basement. It’s just not the sort of place you imagine a rock star would live. There are about fifteen apartments per floor with dark green carpeted hallways that are vacuumed once a week. I’m known as 17-Y. As in: “17-Y – you got dry cleaning!”
I’ve never thought of my building as a desired address but then again, I live in the dead zone. This is the back of the building that faces the back of the building next door. Sometimes, between 2 and 3 in the afternoon, if I open the window and tilt far to the left, I can tell it’s a sunny day.
“There are some beautiful apartments in this building!” Affirms Mario somewhat defensively. “Why wouldn’t he want to live here?”
I guess I couldn’t believe that out of all the apartment buildings in New York – Mr. Costello (floor unknown), would move somewhere so un-hip. There are families with Mezuzahs on the door. There are tenants from when the building was first built. There are three elevators, two of which are clogged with strollers and bicycles and rain soaked Chinese food deliverymen. The third is permanently out of order. Shouldn’t he be in a loft in Tribeca?
“Maybe he couldn’t get approved anywhere else.” Bill, 22-B, suggests.
New York co-op boards are notoriously picky. When I applied to get in, my interview took place with Mrs. Rosenblatt, 3F. I sat on her plastic covered sofa and answered questions along the lines of: “Do you own – or ever intend to own – a dog that barks?” And when she discovered I was a writer her eyes widened. “What kind of writer?” She asked, suspiciously. “A quiet one.” I replied. I can only imagine her tone when she interviewed Elvis Costello. “A musician? Really. What kind of musician?”
The other day I heard someone practicing scales on the piano. It went on for hours and disrupted my procrastination. I was going to call downstairs to say something but then I thought twice. What if it was him? The last thing I want is to be the person complaining about Elvis Costello making too much ‘noise’ on the piano!
I adore my building but it still mystifies me that of all the places in the city, Elvis Costello would choose to live here. Finally, growing impatient with my relentless disbelief, Mario sighed. “It’s the location.”
I could accept that.