Today on Alphabet City: Long before he takes real estate advice from an Oscar-winner, Jon Paul battles Japanese Power Rangers to score his first NYC apartment. Guest star: Marcia Gay Harden.
As repeat viewers may remember, on last week’s Kitchen Knightmares I served a fishy dish to the editor of Washington Heights’ neighborhood newspaper. Well, turns out he survived to tell the tale—literally, he wrote all about it in this week’s Manhattan Times, the opening of the piece tells the story of how I found our current brownstone thanks to encouragement from actress Marcia Gay Harden. Reading it reminds me that I’ve always been blessed with good Big Apple real estate karma. While many young transplants spin tales of tiny Manhattan studios with tubs in kitchens, I escaped those nightmares when I first moved here in 1996. Instead, I did battle with costumed characters to score my first pad in the East Village.
Here’s an excerpt from Alphabet City’s Epsiode 2: Will He Make It After All?
Just like when Mary first arrived and battled Rhoda over an insanely well-designed apartment, I had a similar fight over my first NYC home—only not with my best friend. In my sitcom set-up, my pal from college Angela and I joined forces and battled a group of Japanese Power Rangers. The East Village apartment we desired was in a newly renovated building, and while it was slightly more than we could afford, it had two levels, and a backyard, perfect for my foofy dog Winnie who was accustomed to carousing in her own grassy yard in Texas.
Only thing standing between us and our new sitcom set were seven Japanese kids who had just graduated from high school, dressed head-to-toe in colored leotards with matching helmets, and flashing a wad of cash. Their parents were willing to pay the entire year’s rent up front. It was an offer that John the Greek landlord, just venturing into the realm of NYC real estate, could hardly refuse. Our shot at a fabulous pad was slipping away.
But if there’s one thing I learned from Mary, it was a little charm goes a long way. I invited John the Greek Landlord to lunch—he looked like a guy who didn’t miss a meal. Over latkes and applesauce at Leshko’s Polish Diner just down the block, Angela and I asked John about his family. He beamed as he showed us wallet-size pics of the strapping young men.
“It’s a very big Greek family. All my sons in the business with me,” he said.
I wondered if any of them were single.
“Well, I can’t wait to meet them,” I said.
“Must be so wonderful with them being so close for you to look after them,” Angela added.
“It’s so hard for us moving to New York from Texas, so far from our families,” I chimed in.
I looked away out the window—like I was about to cry, when actually I was about to burst out laughing at the lie I was telling. Angela was certainly close to her family—but I was purposely escaping my crazy brood back in Dallas. My father’s parting words echoed in my head.
“This will be the biggest mistake of your life.”
I turned back to the landlord, and went for the close, ready to pick up the check, intending to pay with money I had borrowed for the apartment’s security deposit. I leaned in, looking him squarely in the eyes.
“John, let’s be honest, after all the blood sweat and tears you put into that amazing apartment, who would you rather have in there? Two good kids from Texas that are going to care for the place like a real home? Or the hard-partying Power Rangers who will trash it in a year?”
While thinking about the cash the Asian superheroes were flashing, John looked at Angela, then at me—my eyes pleading with him for a break. He smiled.
“Alright, it is you who will have apartment. Welcome to Alphabet City.”
After dreaming about this moment for over 20 years, I grabbed the keys to my first New York apartment—and the beginning to a new sitcom life in the Big Apple.