Blue Cowhide

These fictional stories mix personal anecdotes, news, hard reporting, and made-up stuff. All names and characters are invented, but many of the quotes are real. These are their stories.


“These walls are blue cowhide.”

Marc briefly caressed the blue cowhide wall and glanced toward the wall-to-wall bedroom windows, noticing the silhouette of his hair. The glass holding back a sea of white fog.

“You can normally see as far as Pennsylvania from here.”

$14 million. Intricately designed. The 92nd floor 3,000 square foot model apartment, as close to the heavens as one could live in this mortal world. Yet it had a purgatorial spirit.

“The 130th-floor penthouse is listed for $250 million.” (Click to 31:40 to see the amenities).

“This building has a much bigger footprint, so we don’t have the issues of the other super-tall skyscrapers.”

He took it, model furniture and all.


Glass City

“I paid $17 million for this POS! I can’t even sell it!”

Ravi quickly got off the phone with her lawyer. It was the plumber calling to say he was 15 minutes late.


A titanic sound from fierce winds, like an iceberg was about to hit. A shake in the floor kicked up her vertigo. The city lights too far to pierce the dusk clouds.

The problems started on day one. Stepping out of the black Suburban from LaGuardia, no doorman in sight and unaccustomed to the streets, a swift swing of the door slammed a bike messenger to the curb.

A step slow, the doorman ran out of the building and exhaled, “I’m so sorry miss, please come in.” He then ushered the messenger on his way.

“How does it feel to live in the tampon building?” To this day, she still couldn’t get those piercing words from the messenger out of her head. They were worse than a punch in the gut. The building was designed after a wastebasket after all.

Dodging four movers jostling a massive jeweled octopus sculpture towards the freight, Ravi felt momentarily safe in the marbled floors of the lobby. It would be her last, however, as the doors opened to the unfinished elevator.

She was one of the first residents of 432 Park Avenue, an NYC trophy retirement apartment in the tallest residential building in the world, wanting to live closer to her children. And she was not the only resident who would learn their first evening about a not-so-insignificant fear of airplanes crashing through the bedroom window.

The Saudis would move into the penthouse a week later; part of their security entourage into the apartment above. As the Russian money to the city slowed, the Saudis picked up the slack. They obtained the penthouse apartment for $87 million.

Ten months of the year silent, two of constant footsteps, earbuds, and vodka. But at least they were less noisy than when she lived under the Russians in Trump Tower. That was a tough place to sell.

Ravi winces at the memory, feeling a twinge in her back as she rolls up a $45,000 carpet and places it next to a soggy $200,000 painting.

“Why can’t I find a good apartment in New York City?”

Note: in reality, the Saudi billionaire property developer never moved in after purchasing, and eight years later is still trying to sell the unit.

Saul sat with a cigar on the uncomfortably low cast-iron footstep of 102 Greene Street, his new trophy building.

He subtly rolled his eyes as two dorky tourist photographers walked by. “Amazing door, amazing,” the shorter one remarked using the most basic of words.

“I can’t get rid of it, it’s landmarked,” Saul quipped.

The polite photographers had assumed he was an asshole. The door was stunning and a historic part of the neighborhood – a clear asset.

But little did they know Saul agreed with them. The door was majestic. Yet if only someone from the landmarks commission knew the ways the door haunted him. He needed to get rid of that door.

At first, things were polite. A little joke or two, opening cabinets, stealing his stuff; basically, screwing with him.

The cast-iron masterpiece had been owned by the late sculptor William Tarr in the ‘60s and ’70s, who created the door when the neighborhood was desolate. The building had barely been updated since, a beautiful shell of itself with remnants of Tarr throughout.

As he planned renovations and looked for a long-term trophy tenant, Saul threw parties amongst the remnants of an artistic era.

The ghost seemed to like that, the string of hopped-up and troubled people to entertain him.

Yet as soon as the contractors moved in, things turned. Each piece of the old building removed seemed to anger the ghost. The jokes became more violent.

Out of fear, Saul removed Tarr from that building, piece by piece, gutting it to the bone, except for that damn landmarked door.

After a particularly sensitive incident with a Shop-Vac, Saul vowed to take his checks and never step foot inside again. And his fortunes improved as he leased the building to the jewelry juggernaut Cartier.

Yet to this day Saul drives past occasionally, reminiscing about those jokes and quiet evenings together, and looking jealously on at the new doorman, who he’s sure is now friends with the ghost.

Francesco peered out of St. Ann’s church tower window, high up in the spire.

He was going to be late; it was almost 11:30.

A child of Italian immigrants, Frank spent his life on the Lower East Side block playing stickball and causing minor trouble. Until that one fateful day when he decided to join the parish due to a feeling that he didn’t fit in. And he wanted to stay on the block.

Slowly at first and then all at once the congregation stopped coming. The quiet engulfed him.

“Maybe I should find a new place,” he thought.

The suits and cranes arrived soon after and began to take the church apart piece by piece. As he spent what he thought was his last night in the spire, the demolition abruptly stopped, with only the facade remaining. “Why didn’t they just knock it all down?”

Quickly, a building grew from the rubble, and one day the NYU college students moved in. The spire remained.

This semester the kids in 7C smoked a lot of weed. 8C was the most active sexually; usually Tuesdays and Thursdays were must-watch. 6B seemed to be fighting on the phone lately. And 9A kept creepily staring out the window at him. But tonight was the new favorite, two excited young men who had just started dating.

“I think I’ll renew for another year,” Frank thought.


After being killed in The Lord of the Rings, the evil Sauron was thought to be dead forever.

Until one day some developers decided to recreate his Mordor tower in Downtown Brooklyn on top of the guts of an old savings bank, and the space-time-continuum was sufficiently confused by the similarities to let Sauron slip undetected into this universe. He lived in apartment 13J.

At night Sauron planned, but by day he worked for Twitter to pay the rent. (*Note: I was going to say Wall Street, but the tech bros are the evil ones now, right?) And by the way, a rent which was exorbitant for the compact and basic luxury interior, but it’s not like he could take over the world from a brownstone. And it was a convenient subway ride to work.

Sauron went for midnight walks to clear his head, all until the new night doorman, Joey, arrived and wouldn’t stop talking. Each evening was a determination to escape but each night he was mesmerized further into Joey’s talkative spells.

He finally decided to stop the midnight walks after Joey told him that his girlfriend had sniffed his underwear while he was in the shower to make sure he wasn’t cheating.

Sauron’s imagination for evil destruction was beginning to suffer.



2 thoughts on “Blue Cowhide”

  1. A lot of depth with this article. The various links show a lot of research on your part as well as interesting reading. This is much more than your average article.

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