How many Ivy League-educated students does it take to get suckered into renting an insect-infested shit-hole of a house in the heart of Collegetown? The answer, ladies and gentlemen, is eight. And those eight are the current tenants of the emerald and pearl mansion sitting prominently at the bottom of Bool Street. Welcome to 134 College Avenue, the crummiest piece of real estate in Ithaca (and perhaps Tompkins County), and the humble abode we’ve called home for the last nine months.
You think your Collegetown residence is bad? Don’t come crying to us. We’ve got it worse. Where to begin though? Our porch — no more than three feet from the road — provided us all with a wonderful place to congregate with friends and enjoy the weather last fall. That was until the killer bees invaded in October. They remain here today. Don’t believe us? Walk by our place tomorrow. Can’t find us? Just look for the swarm. To the untrained eye, our house might also appear to be structurally sound. It’s got columns out front. And vinyl siding. Step around the side though and you’ll be treated to an engineering feat in itself — two bedrooms hanging precariously off the house with no support. A modern day marvel.
It only gets better once you step inside, though. Our toilets wobble when we’re pooping, our walls crumble like graham crackers when we’re leaning against them, and windows slam shut when we’re trying to prop them open. Then there’s the water. Water pressure (and temperature) comes and goes depending on time, day of week, and alignment of the moons. Leaky roofs dump water into first floor apartments. Overflowing first floor toilets dump sewage water into basement apartments. All this for only $560 a month! Act now and you can even pay utilities!
We had to know — at least partially — just what we were getting ourselves into when we signed our lease on a car-hood that fateful day in 2002. And, the fact that the belongings of last year’s 134 College Avenue tenants remained when we moved in last June, should have tipped us off a little bit. But then we met our landlord(s). We say landlord(s) because, to be honest, we don’t really know who our landlord is. We pay checks to one person. We contact another for maintenance. We contact a third when we threaten to call the City of Ithaca about building code violations. Having paid months of rent in advance when we signed our lease, we don’t see much of our friendly neighborhood slumlord(s). They come around every once in a while, usually with prospective tenants, checking out our comfortable home. Outside of that, we did see one of our slumlords early last fall, when he drove up to our house in his brand new convertible (paid for with our rent checks), honked at us, and told us in a thick accent to “clean up out here” (motioning to our porch), before flying up College Avenue into the distance.
Our lease is quickly drawing to an end. And none of us can really say we’re going to miss this hell-hole very much. Sure, we’ve had our fun here — but we also each say a little prayer every night that we won’t ever have to live in a god-awful place like this again in our lives.
And to those suckers living at 134 next year: have fun with the bees.
Archived article by Marc Zawel (and housemates)