Monday, March 29, 2010

About the building that inspired the novel "East Fifth Bliss"

Page Six had an item yesterday titled "Michael C. Hall's East Village movie searching for his character's apartment."

As the item notes:

"Fifth Street Bliss," with "Dexter" star Michael C. Hall, starts filming in the East Village next month. Director Michael Knowles, who adapted the novel of the same title by Douglas Light, has brokers looking for an apartment where Hall's unemployed character, 35-year-old Morris Bliss, lives with his widowed father. Brie Larson, 20, of "The United States of Tara," will play the sexually precocious 18-year-old daughter of a former classmate who ends Bliss' inertia. The movie also stars Lucy Liu and Michael Rapaport.

The brokers will not be able to use the building that inspired the book: 343 E. Fifth St. between First Avenue and Second Avenue.

Why? The building's remaining residents were allegedly booted last September for a fancy makeover...

Author Douglas Light lived in the East Village for nearly 15 years, including a long stint at 343 E. Fifth St.

In an e-mail, Douglas told me:

"My wife actually ran into an old tenant from there ... and he was telling her some wild stories about $250k buy-out offers (which he turned down, of course), arson by the building owner (to flush-out the remaining hold-outs), and the police cuffing and prep-walking the owner out of the building. As for the validity of the stories I can't say. This is the same guy who believed my wife was a spy that the owner planted in the building to keep tabs on everyone."

In the book, one of the longtime residents of the building, Sofar, never leaves his apartment.

From the book:

"Sofar is an anchorite, confined to the worn rooms of his small space. He lives on delivery, never leaves the building, paranoid that the moment he steps outside, he'll be booted from his rent-stabilized apartment.

His fears are well-founded.

The last time he stepped out, his place was broken into and Hambone was dognapped. Everything was left a mess.

It was Hatfield, the then-owner of the building, that broke in. He desperately wanted Sofar out, wanted his rent-stabilized apartment back."

In this case, fiction becomes reality, perhaps.

I talked with Douglas more about the book and the East Village. Look for that interview later this week.

And here's 343 E. Fifth St. in progress...


Barbara L. Hanson said...

Another revolting movie about an adult man and a nymphet. Do they meet "cute"?
I'll be sure to keep water balloons handy while they're filming in the neighborhood. BLEAH.

Laura Goggin Photography said...

Arson? Really? I recall a few years ago, there was a big fire behind the building that burned out the phone boxes so badly, I lost my land line permanently. Thanks to that, I finally got a cell phone.

All that sandblasting was done really fast - the building was still all-white just a few days ago.

Anonymous said...

I believe this is now a Croman building (yes that <a href=">Croman</a>, the notorious one).