April 15, 2011

My VILLAGE VOICE Ad & True Story Behind WTC VIEW

I was recently rummaging through some old files and found something remarkable; a copy of the apartment listing I placed in the VILLAGE VOICE on the night of September 10, 2001.  My previous roommate had moved out on August 15th and I had been lazy....spending time at the beach when I should have been finding a new roommate.  As the 15th approached, I decided that Monday I would try to get someone to move in later that week.  So I went online and placed the ad. It was the last thing I did that night before I went to bed.

The ad went live on the VOICE website in the early morning hours of 9/11 and, believe it or not, I actually got calls about my apartment on September 12th from people wanting to "come down and see the place".  Of course, unless they were in the National Guard, they could not get into my neighborhood as it was in the Frozen Zone south of 14th Street that was set up after the destruction of the World Trade Center. When the ad appeared in the print edition of the VOICE on 9/17 (pictured above), I got even more calls and thus began my longest search for a roommate, one which would not be resolved until November.

As a writer, people always wonder if my writing is autobiographical and, in the case of the play, I started with this strange but true story and went from there.  I thought it would be a good starting point for a play that takes a different look at 9/11 and how it affected New York City, specifically those living downtown.  This story of this ad is the true story behind my play WTC VIEW, which opens next month here in NYC.

The title of the play, however, does not come from my original ad.  It came from a conversation with my previous roommate, who remarked as he was moving out how I could put "WTC View" in the ad as a selling point.  He though the view was amazing.  However, even though I liked the view too, I told him that no one puts that in apartment ads....Empire State View means something but WTC View doesn't mean anything, real estate wise.  The Twin Towers were sort of taken for granted until, only a few weeks later, they were gone.