Thursday, May 20, 2010

The butler inherited it. (Indra Tamang at The Dakota)

My day dreams - generally conducted sometime during the fifteen minutes that follow the purchase of a Power Ball quick-pick, when the jackpot is sufficiently large that I can make not only myself happy, but those around me happy as well – often involve a pied a terre in New York City.

Sometimes that pied a terre is in the West Village. Sometimes it’s in Murray Hill, or Brooklyn Heights. And sometimes it’s in the West Side, occasionally in The Dakota.

Now, I am not a particular star-hound, so I am not drawn to The Dakota because it’s been the home of Lauren Bacall, Paul Simon, Leonard Bernstein, Judy Garland, Boris KarSee full size imageloff, and Connie Chung. Nor, creepily, by the fact that Rosemary’s Baby (a work by the yeccchhh director, Roman Polanski) and John Lennon were both shot there. No, I like it because it’s an outrageously interesting and funky old building (in a fab location on West 72nd and Central Park West).

I’m quite sure that even the meanest of flats there – something in the coal cellar, or under the eaves - would set you back plenty. Plus, you have to be vetted by the co-op board, something which (or so I heard) Melanie Griffith, Gene Simmons, and Billy Joel weren’t able to do. (Now I get the Gene Simmons thing. Who’d want to encounter that first thing in the morning when you’re putting the recycle out. But compare and contrast: Paul Simon and Billy Joel. Who decides these things?)

Anyway, now there’s speculation about whether a long term Dakota denizen, and more recent owner, is going to be allowed to stay.

As The WSJ reported, Indra Tamang was the long-term butler and caretaker to Dakotans Charles Henri Ford and his sister Ruth Ford, who moved on last year – at age 98 – to the Big Dakota in the Sky.

She bequeathed Tamang two apartments in the Dakota, one of which he’d like to sell, the other of which he’d like keep. He lives in Queens, and he wants to hang on to a studio apartment as his – ta-da – pied a terre. (Interesting that you can inherit an apartment in a co-op, but you still have to apply to live there. Hmmmmm.)

The co-op board is pooh-poohing the notion that they’d reject a humble manservant. And, frankly, if I were to win that Power Ball drawing, I’d rather have Indra Tamang as a neighbor than, say, Gene Simmons. (I don’t imagine that Mr. Tamang would be wearing kabuki make-up or sticking his tongue out at me.)

"We at The Dakota are proud that for many years ours has been an extraordinarily diverse community of residents," the statement said.

Wonder whether that extraordinary diversity ever included a common workingman like Mr. Tamang. After all, they don’t just reject celebs, they apparently looked down their nose at some guy who’d made his fortune in the cardboard box industry.

It noted that Mr. Tamang, who has worked at the Dakota for decades beginning in the 1970s, "is held in high esteem by those in the building who know him."

If I were to place a bet here, I’d guess that The Dakotans will vote Mr. Tamang in, all the while congratulating themselves on the “extraordinarily diverse community of residents” they have there.

Knowing that  a former butler has taken up permanent, permitted residency in the Dakotas would, I think, please John Lennon.

And, New York being New York, and America being America, there’s more to Indra Tamang.

Indra Tamang was born in a mud huthouse in Nepal. The first person he met upon leaving was Man Ray. Indra is probably best known for his collaboration with Charles Henri Ford [one of the employers who left him a fortune], but that's not all. He makes delicious tea and lets his big, pokerfaced tortoise swim in the bathtub. (Source: Goodie Magazine.)

Best not let the co-op board hear about that pokerfaced tortoise swimming in the bathtub.

That aside, is this a great story or what?

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