The cost of pursuing a creative career without a trust fund has meant living in some of the city’s sketchier neighborhoods over the years–Washington Heights in the heyday of crack, f’rinstance.

Retroblogging from June 22, 1989:

…A couple of weeks ago, cops raided 1060 St. Nik – bust down the door, but did not get their man, who lived on the third floor – a dealer who had shot his girlfriend in the head, then fled. Left behind dope galore, over $1200 cash (who knows really how much more), 15-20 guns, 3 VCRs, dozens of lawbooks, and a toilet seat with his name, “Mickey,” on it.

I ran into the maintenance man Joe, who said I should take the furniture if I needed it, and anything else I wanted. As we moved furniture over the roof to my place, we discovered a false bottom to one drawer – $260, mostly in very old bills. Also an arrow, several pairs of expensive new men’s socks, and a piece of 1/2″ thick plate glass (covered with coke at the time, but very useful for painting). So, my indirect thanks to the lousy heroin/coke-dealing bum. Good riddance.

The super, a few days later, slaps a bag of pot into my hand after calling me to his door. A dime-bag which he won’t let me pay for – tells me it’s a $15 bag and wants favours from me instead. No shit. This guy is too old to be my father. Seems he and Joe have targeted me somewhat – so I put a firm end to any ideas he was entertaining and only hope that he doesn’t get crazy or spiteful. I doubt it, but one never knows with people how they will react. I tried to handle it carefully and respectfully, but strong.

Bruce Bailey was brutally murdered last week. A shock too great for me, after all the hours spent with him over the 109th St case in housing court. It seems it was probably related to his pressuring the landlords of a building around the corner from me on 164th Street to get crack out of the building. No need to describe it here. I already have enough fuel for nightmares. But now, after such a murder, who will have the courage to help others fight and organize? Who will have even the courage to fight for themselves? The dealers & the landlords are one and the same, knowing only greed, breeding avarice, which nourishes itself with death and depravity…