53 Pearl Street



We were on the second or third floor, and above us was Martha Rosler.  And above or adjacent to Martha was a married couple where the wife was an executive at Citibank and her husband was an abstract painter.  Needless to say, the creator of “Semiotics of the Kitchen” wasn’t very happy to share the building with loud, partying 20-somethings, but the married couple were pretty nice.

As you might have heard, there was a fair amount of crime in New York City back then. We were burglarized twice -- always cat burglars -- but the upstairs couple had the misfortune to wake up mid burglary and they were tied up until the police showed up.  They might have moved after that.  

I, Californian to the core, had a car which suffered relentless abuse.  One day I woke up to discover that all four wheels had been stolen and everybody then told me what wheel locks were. I later learned that we were about a hundred meters away from a drug halfway house which explained why anybody would bother to break into buildings in such a poor, run down neighborhood.

Years later in Los Angeles I woke up during a cat burglary — a total stranger was standing in my bathroom at 3am — and he bolted out of my open bathroom window and I ran to my bedroom and grabbed a 7 iron.  The police arrived in minutes, but I don’t think they caught the guy.