Why Harlem–what inspired you to write a book about Central Harlem’s tenants and supers?
As I say in the introduction to Mr. Jefferson’s Piano and Other Central Harlem Stories, one of my senior colleagues, Ms. Mavis Washington, had died. My coworkers and I were discussing her death. You know how folks are when they start discussing the dearly departed. One thing leads to another and those memories—good and sometimes bad—pop up. Everybody starts telling a favorite story about the departed. Typically, the stories don’t match because everybody has her own version of the same tale. It’s like ten blind women trying to describe an elephant to each other. Each woman has a different description based on what her body senses, her hands touch, her ears hear, and her nose smells. What I’m saying here is that I’m sure another book written by one of my colleagues might put a different emphasis on the same experiences we all shared.
To answer your question another way, I looked around Harlem, my adopted home, and I noticed changes. The Army-Navy store across the street or bodega down the block disappeared. And there was no fanfare announcing their disappearance either. One day, I bought a soda from the Korean guy behind the counter. The next day, he and the store were gone. Some of the buildings I managed became co-ops. Others were demolished to build luxury housing for the suits. The cleaners I used had become a storage facility. Starbucks, Walt Disney, and former President Clinton opened branches and invaded 125th Street.
Tenants, squatters, supers, handymen, mechanics, small shopkeepers, drug dealers and abusers, city property managers—we were the forgotten people … the real citizens of Harlem. Nobody saw us unless we did something bad or illegal to raise their consciousness or their anger. We were hot for a New York minute until their fears subsided and then we became antidotes at the bottom of the page again. I realized if I didn’t document what I’d seen and done as a property manager for the city of New York in Harlem over the last three decades, I didn’t think anybody would and so I did.
Preorder date is NOW. Release date is 9/30/16.
For additional information on Mr. Jefferson’s Piano & Other Central Harlem Stories, see the links below.
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01KTTJYVM
Amazon Kindle UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B01KTTJYVM
Amazon Kindle CA: http://www.amazon.ca/gp/product/B01KTTJYVM
Book trailer: https://youtu.be/hiQj8jzE_3c
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