In the world of Landlord/Tenant law, at least in NYC, there is a saying, “the worst landlords are tenants.”  When a tenant sublets their apartment, the opportunity has proven ripe to act like a desperate know-it-all dumbass.  In the L/T law office where Campus Whits has labored, we have had some obnoxious cases.  In one instance, a friend of the landlord’s young daughter was given a sweet deal on an apartment in the West Village, only to abuse the favor by then secretly subletting the place at a much higher rent.  It wasn’t secret for long, the woman was a total spoiled knucklehead, and matters settled in Housing Court, where she flirted with attorneys.  Anyhow, the first crime committed was that of the landlord’s unctuous nepotism…  In another case, a deadbeat tenant was living in his ex-girlfriend’s apartment.  The ex had since moved overseas and abandoned the place.  Our office moved to evict the deadbeat, who was advised of the date when the eviction would occur.  The city marshal showed up and found a new tenant just moved in.  It turned out that the deadbeat had sublet the place and hightailed it out of there before the eviction date.  The new tenant was clueless and flipped-out, but at least now has a great New York story to tell friends and family.

Campus Whits has lived in many NYC apartments over the last 14 years, and can vouch the basic human law that sublets usually end ugly.  Sometimes, as a doubledecker bus tour guide, dealing with tenants who think they are landlords is like dealing with passengers who think they are tour guides.  An example is this past Sunday.  On the Uptown Loop, which bowls through the Upper West and East Sides and Harlem betwixt, a Cuban family boarded the bus.  I didn’t know the family was Cuban until later, but would not have otherwise altered the schpiel.

On the corner of 125th St. and Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Blvd. stands Hotel Theresa, a commanding white-bricked building designed in 1913 by architects trained in Paris, as was the trend in those pre-WWI years, and which proof is Grand Central Terminal, the New York Public Library, and the James Farley Post Office on 33rd and 8th Ave.  As the Uptown Loop turns the corner,  I tell the story of when Fidel Castro stayed at Hotel Theresa with his Cuban delegation in 1960, and how the story goes Castro was rejected from hotels in midtown because his entourage included 20 concubines and 50 live chickens.  Castro was paranoid his meals might be poisoned, and so traveled with live cluckers to trust his food.  “And we can only guess why the concubines, aha ha ha….”

When the Cuban family disembarked the bus, the father turned tour guide.  He was a striking guy, in casual clothes, a hairless head, stocky like a deep-sea diver, and looked liked he could be one of The Expendables. Without a buck in the tip box, he gave another tip, that I had my facts wrong.  His voice was booming and swift.  He thought it was disrespectful to portray Castro as one who kept concubines and chickens as luggage, and the real story was that the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel originally rejected the delegation because its members included Cuban blacks.  As a result, Castro was invited to Harlem.  I tried to tell the guy that I knew the point was that the newspapers invented the story, but he only repeated his own schpiel, with utmost lack of humor, while his composed teenage son tried to pull him away, like any kid embarrassed by dad going off.  The family headed out in the direction of F.A.O Schwartz before I could inform the patriarch I wanted to take his tour of Havana when next I was in town.

It wasn’t the Waldorf where Castro was rebuffed but the Hotel Shelburne.  The Shelburne might have been racist.  It was 1960 and much blood would be splattered before blacks could vote in the South without rednecks with bats and guns guarding the polls.  According to The Secret Fidel Castro, by Servando González, the Hotel Theresa was a strategic locale for Castro, who sought to cast his cause as an incendiary kinship with black nationalism.  Down the street “was Lewis Michaux’s African Memorial Book Store, the biggest black nationalist book store in the country.  Around the corner was the Harlem Labor Center, a black militant organization.”  The Cubans claimed the Hotel Shelburne was shaking them down for prohibitive hotel rates, like the way the Mafia exploits capitalism.  Read about it here and here.

The story about the chickens and concubines was concocted by squibby journalists to humiliate Castro, or maybe to welcome the communist revolutionary to the vainglorious roil of the New York press.  When Campus Whits makes it in the New York Post, it can only be hoped the story is extravagant bullshit.  Wrong facts make a right tour – they are the scotched and blitzed ectoplasm of good stories.  One cannot please everybody.  Two years ago, a passenger from Alabama similarly questioned my historical accuracy.  After I pointed out Grant’s Tomb as the resting place of the Northern general who won the Civil War, the Alabama man, in vintage twang, told me I got it all wrong.  “The South didn’t lose the Civil War.”

Like Castro, my success as a leader, of people two hours on a tour bus ahem, relies on provocation and new ideas.  Just the CIA never tried to poison my cigars so that my beard falls off.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

3 Responses to “History is a Good Cheap Sublet”

  1.   Tasha Forsell said:

    HURRAY! can’t balladeer. by virtue of himself by what name highly.

  2.   teflon tablecloth said:

    Generally I do not read article on blogs, however I wish to say that this write-up very pressured me to check out and do so! Your writing style has been amazed me. Thanks, very great article.

  3.   click here said:

    If you dont mind, where do you host your web page? I am looking for a great web host and your website seams to be extremely fast and up just about all the time

Leave a Reply