Monday, July 24, 2017

Marlton House Memories

On Thursday I have a meeting at Marlton Hotel. I am excited to be back on my old stomping grounds, but on very different terms. A decade ago I lived in the same building when it was a scuzzy, partial-dorm for New School University. I was a grad student and RA for the students. Marlton housed both students as well as old-time pimps, drug dealers and chess hustlers who worked Washington Square Park for money (and couldn't be kicked out b/c of NYC tenant laws). No one thought anything of putting up hayseed freshmen in a building where prostitutes would ride the rickety elevator after a long night of work. I remember finding little baggies of cocaine spilled across the stairs to the student lounge, presumably from a late-night of debauchery. I remember a Swiss student going on a coke bender b/c I was the RA on duty that had to 'bring him back down to earth' and tell him he had 24 hrs to immediately leave the dorm forever. There was another student who was starring in porn movies while still in school.

Every room was a tiny studio with a bed, desk, closet/dresser combo, and a minifridge/mini-microwave. Old wiring and dusty circuit breakers meant that almost all excessive electronics were banned so -of course- everyone had hot plates in their room, DJ turn tables, and video game consoles that would short circuit a floor and plunge everyone into darkness. Each floor had a shared bathroom at the end of the hall and the pipes would knock and scream. The Hell's Angel bikers would hang out down the block at Grey's Papaya, a 24-hr hot dog stand where you could get the greasiest 99 cent hot dog smothered in stinky sauerkraut and spicy mustard. Students, bikers, homeless, and hookers would be there late into the night scarfing down dogs with the obligatory pina colada drink that was just flavored sugar water dispensed by the gallon. Hell's Angels would then go roaring by the Marlton Dorm at around 2 or 3 am during the week and back to their HQ in the East Village.

You couldn't keep the windows open during the day because the wind might change directions and blow black chimney smoke from a nearby building into your room, covering everything in black soot.

Electric Lady Studios (where Jimi Hendrix recorded) was across the street. Manhattan Theatre Source (great little theatre) was also across the street and near the legendary TLA Video Store. There was one laundry mat for the entire block and it was run by a pervy, ruddy-faced Russian guy who would ask me over to his place while I washed my clothes. I would smile and pretend like I couldn't understand what he was saying b/c of his thick accent until he would get embarrassed and drop the matter. I found out later that he would ask many of the students over to his place, so maybe he was just trying to be friendly...or maybe he was going to chop us up into little pieces and make love to the severed parts; I guess we will never know!!

This was NOT NYC in the 1970s or even the 1980s. This was in the 21st century. This was Marlton House 10 yrs ago. The property was sold, gutted, and turned into a luxury hotel. Grey's Papaya is gone and is now a high-end juice bar. TLA Video has been closed for over 10 yrs and nothing is in its place. The entire block smells like french bread and fruitty soap. Oh well.

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