The entire cast (minus the fabulous Caroyln Castiglia, who was capturing this joyous moment on her camera) of All the Way, For the Children, my big "Celine Dion" extravaganza at Mo Pitkin's, on January 28, 2007. This photo was taken backstage right after the show. (No, I don't normally wear eyeliner.) Front row (from L. to R.): Laura Mannino; Katina Corrao; Shawn Hollenbach; Alana Harrison (love that smile!); back row (L. to R.): Adira Amram (gettin' down!); Paul Case (looking very handsome and solemn, like an extra on Law and Order), me, and Eric Poindexter.
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Notwithstanding the brilliant scheme described in Part III (see below), by law, Brent S%#@ was required to offer me and all the other tenants in his building a so-called “first right of refusal”—in other words, he had to offer us the chance to buy our own apartments before he could offer them to anyone else.
So here was his offer to me: buy the apartment I lived in, as is, for the very reasonable sum of $887,000. No renovations, no upgraded appliances, not even a fresh coat of paint. And I would have to endure about 2 years of renovations on the 399 other units in my building. Awesome!
This is how it felt in my soul! (Not.)
I lived in denial for months, convinced that somehow, I would be able to stay in my apartment. After all, wasn’t I a model tenant? Surely S%#@ would come to his senses?
Well, as it turns out, S%#@ apparently doesn’t have any senses.
All I know is that there was no convincing him or his leasing staff (who were all summarily fired, one by one, later that year) that we tenants should be entitled to stay. So when my lease was about to expire in September 2006, I panicked; I didn’t want to end up in housing court, running the risk that I would not only be evicted, but, worse yet, be blacklisted forever by every landlord in New York City.
So after just one year, I packed up all of my crap and moved from a “luxury” one-bedroom apartment to a—God help me!—“luxury” studio apartment four blocks away. The dreaded down-size. (I know, I know—I’m a trouper.)
About 6 months later, however, I discovered that a number of tenants had sued S%#@ —including one tenant in my old building, and several dozen at another building who had pooled resources into a tenants’ association. Turns out, the members of the association had won the right to stay in their apartments uptown, and the lone tenant from my old building downtown had also been granted the same right. So now, if S%#@ wanted to get rid of them, he would have to compensate them for agreeing to leave. (I later heard that the lone cowboy tenant from my building was paid over $100,000 to move out of his apartment. Over a hundred grand, people! That’s like, rent on a summer house in the Hamptons—for an entire 2 months!)
With dollar signs in my eyes, I decided that I too would fight for my rights, just like Fox News and the Tea Party-ers. So I filed a lawsuit against S%#@ in small claims court. (It was too late to go to housing court, since I no longer had possession of my old apartment. But at the very least, I figured, I could get back the $1,000 I had wasted in moving expenses.)
I was sure that justice would finally prevail. A fair, impartial judge would finally make this right! He’d see through S%#@’s Machiavellian ploy and make me whole again. After all, I was just asking for a measly grand! (That’s, like, lunch and new pair of socks in the Hamptons.)
After weeks and weeks of preparation, and one two-month adjournment (at S%#@’s request, naturally), I finally had my day in court. (Well, evening in court. Whatever. The point is, I had my hearing.)
And I made my case. I calmly and methodically explained to the judge that the precedent set by the case involving the tenants’ association from the other building established that I had a statutory right to my apartment, which S%#@’s pressure and threats to evict me had deprived me of and, therefore, I should be compensated. After all, if S%#@ were allowed to get away with what he had done to me, he—and every other landlord in town—would have a major incentive to do the same thing to everyone!
After about 2 months of waiting on pins and needles, I finally received my judgment—a 4-page document that came in the mail. I opened it, palms sweaty, fingers trembling, mouth dry, and read the verdict—a finding in favour of the defendant.
I rubbed my eyes, and looked again. It couldn’t be true! But it was. I saw two of the ugliest words I had ever seen: “Case Dismissed.”
According to the judge, there was no evidence S%#@ had “defrauded” me. The judge felt that, if only I had defied my landlord’s threats to have me evicted and spent thousands in lawyer and court costs in connection with a protracted litigation in housing court, then maybe I too could have walked away with a six-figure settlement. But, as it turned out, because I had been cooperative in response to the landlord’s unethical pressure tactics, I was screwed. (Not the judge’s exact words, but that was the gist of it.) And somehow, the judge thought that made sense. (Yay, Small Claims Court Judge! You rock. Love your robe. By the way, did you even go to law school?)
WTF?! I was furious. I was incensed. I was out $40 in small claims court fees! But most of all, I was shocked that S%#@ had gotten away with this (for lack of a better term) s%#@. Again.
Hello, I'm Brent S%#@--the evil genius! HA, ha, ha, ha! Ha.
Of course, this was by no means the end of the S%#@ story, thanks to a little thing called “karma.” (Which can indeed be a major bitch.)
(TO BE CONTINUED...)