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  • six new york city strangers, the 6th is taking the picture, became more connected than they ever imagined

    we all lived at 31 st. marks place in the east village. my wife and i on the top floor...the rest were scattered about in the floors below. most of them had been in that building for years, some, decades. so they knew most of the long timers. we were new.

    february 2008, 6 weeks after we moved in to the most recently renovated apartment, we all experienced a small yet debilitating fire in the basement. we evacuated, some more reluctant than others...and the fire department put out the fire.

    we expected to lose utilities for a couple days, maybe up to a week until the infrastructure was deemed safe and habitable. little did we know, our gas supply, which provided the fuel to cook food, boil water, heat our stoves...would not return for 13 months.

    those 13 months were the most difficult of my 4 and a half years, living in new york city...not to mention my, recently relocated, wife's frustration due to this incident.

    the details of those months are wrought with anger, yelling, screaming, taunting, and various other forms of hatred all focused at the land lord and building owner. it spilled over in to our day to day lives as time progressed. we were angry. we were all angry. so we stopped paying rent. well, we all agreed upon an amount to withhold. for some of us that amount was the entire rent because of the longevity with which they had lived in the building. for us, it was about 50%.

    the battle raged on for months, beyond the 13 it took to rebuild the gas lines and restore the fuel. we went to court.

    we, 6 strangers became closer than we could have imagined. meetings every week, planning, plotting, pooling money for a lawyer, we were comrades in arms. we became life long friends.

    this picture was taken 18 months post fire, as we collectively walked home from the courthouse in downtown new york city...

    after we won our case.

    sue, gregg, ernie, kamallah, paul, and cheryl (taking the picture).
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