For a good portion of ’81 I was living in a sublet on Bank Street west of Hudson, almost exactly opposite HB Studios. The rent was around $350 per month. (Or so I recall.) The sublessor was a 40something guy who lived in Boca Raton, Florida. The landlord, who knew nothing of this arrangement, was one of those tough old New York buzzards in his ’70s. Anyway the landlord got wind and told me to vacate as I was illegally subletting. He naturally wanted a new fully-approved tenant who would pay a bigger rent, but he wouldn’t consider my own application as I was a shiftless scumbag in his eyes. I refused to leave until I could find something else, and then one day I came home to find my stuff (clothes, IBM Selectric typewriter, small color TV, throw rug, framed American Friend poster) lying in a big pile in the hallway with the locks on my apartment door changed. The buzzard was playing rough.

My place was on the top floor of the building (i.e., the third or fourth floor). I went up to the roof and looked down the air shaft, which was smack dab in the middle of the building and about six or eight feet square. I noticed a piece of lumber — not a four-by-four beam but an old pinewood board of some kind — bridging the air shaft with one end lying on a metal ladder or mini-platform of some kind and the other end on a brick ledge outside my bathroom window. I lowered myself down the ladder and slowly crawled along the air shaft board and opened my bathroom window and let myself in. (I said a prayer as I did this and God decided to cut me a break.) I immediately moved my stuff back inside and then called a locksmith and changed the doorknob and bolt locks. The buzzard or one of his flunkies came by two or three days later and tried to open the door and couldn’t — asshole!

I knew I would have to leave before long but the air-shaft derring-do bought me an extra three or four weeks rent-free. Soon after I found another sublet (the bottom floor of a duplex on West 76th between Amsterdam and Columbus) and all was well.