Chapter 12: Marge Piercy and the Anti-Rusk Demo, 1967 (iii)
Near the end of November, Ted, Dave and I chose to move from the W. 94th St. apartment. We had discovered that Mrs. Grossman, our “landlady,” was not really the owner of the apartment building, after all. She was only a rent-controlled tenant masquerading as a landlord, in order to rip us off.
“What you’ve done is very wrong, Mrs. Grossman,” Dave pointed out to her when we confronted her with our knowledge of what she had done, in violation of New York City rent-control laws that protected tenants against the greed of landlords.
Mrs. Grossman looked very nervous, but she didn’t concede that she had done anything wrong or illegal. When we tried to bargain with her, so that she’d agree to sublet her rent-control apartment to us at the legitimate lower rent, she refused to bargain and demanded that we vacate the apartment.
After Mrs. Grossman ended our meeting with her and left the apartment, we decided that it would be too much of a hassle to squat in the apartment against her will. In addition, because Ted had pretty much been living at Trude’s apartment for most of October and November, it didn’t appear necessary for him to keep up the expense of a vacant bedroom, in another shared apartment. So we decided to all move out of the W. 94th St. apartment.
Although Dave and I had gotten much closer as a result of living together, we each didn’t feel it made much sense to look for a new apartment together. Most of Dave’s political work at this time was downtown with older radicals at the New School or around the New York SDS Regional Office with graduate students or with people just out of college. Most of my political work involved meetings inside dormitories, student union lounges and classroom buildings at Columbia. On a daily level, we didn’t seem to have enough in common to make any special effort to keep living together in the absence of Ted’s presence as a third roommate.
One of my last memories of life at the apartment with Dave was a Saturday night visit of Linda, Harvey’s woman friend and Harvey. Harvey and his woman friend had come in from Madison to visit Linda—who, herself, had returned to New York from Madison earlier in the month to catch up on her Barnard academic work. Harvey, his woman friend and Linda each looked like they were either high on marijuana or hash or on some kind of psychedelic drug trip. As we sat around Dave’s water pipe and smoked some more hashish and marijuana, Linda mentioned that she was on a mescaline trip. She appeared happier and gigglier than when she was straight. I felt a very loving kind of vibration in the room between Harvey, his woman friend, Dave and Linda that night, as we all shared more and more hash and grass.
Harvey’s friend still seemed in love with Harvey. Linda appeared content, although Josh had remained out in Wisconsin for the weekend for academic reasons. I was happy to have Harvey appear in the apartment, by surprise, that night. Like Dave, I missed Harvey being around the Upper West Side. Prior to Linda, Harvey and Harvey’s friend going back uptown to Linda’s apartment for the night, Harvey and Dave kissed each other goodbye.
James and the Twenty-Seven Bicycles
8 years ago