He was the best of landlords; he was the worst of landlords


    My kid: “So tell some more about some of the crazy apartments you lived in when you were a Slacker!” 

    Me:  “No problemo!”

     He was the best of landlords, he was the worst of landlords. Mostly the worst.

     In terms of slacker apartments the place on 28 something Irving Avenue South was killer.  3 bedrooms, big dining room with built in buffet, big living room and French doors that opened to a gorgeous balcony porch. Even better it was situated right on the edge of happening Uptown Minneapolis with all the amenities that a young slacker buck required just a short stroll away. Like walking home after seeing the Replacements at the Uptown Bar and tucking into spicy Imperial Mock Duck at KhinDoh Vietnamese. The place was right next to the tracks where today is the Greenway. We used to put pennies and quarters on the tracks and in a dresser drawer I still have today a pouch of squished money. Of course there was no Greenway in the 80s but the network of bike trails around the lakes was right outside the door.

     At $550 a month split between a revolving door of 2 or 3 roommates at a time it was also cheap. For a free to be me dude it was a rocking pad.

     Our landlord Jim was a personality in the echelon of characters deserving of immortalization.  Jim was either a retired or on disability ex-Minneapolis cop. He inherited the fourplex on Irving from his Mom and as far as we could tell lived off rental income and retirement / disability from the MPLS PD. He lived downstairs.

     I almost never saw Jim without a plastic Solo cup full of vodka screwdriver in his hand. His distinguishing characteristic was his rampant alcoholism

      Jim wasn’t one to fix or maintain much. Once there was a leak in the roof making a hole in the ceiling above the shower. A slowly growing hole so you’d get bits of plaster raining down along with your shower.  Jim promised for months to fix it but I don’t think he once came up to see the damage. When he finally did, drink in hand he played the remorseful drunk.

       “Aww hell! This ain’t right you guys got all kinds of crap falling on you! Damn I’m sorry!” and on and on like that.

         Jim gave us a free months rent to make up for the inconvenience. Good landlord because none of us really cared that much about the hole.

        He let me dig up the side yard to plant a garden. It turned out great too, flowers and veggies thriving, not at all like the wilted failure of a garden like a slacker might be expected to create. Jim let me use the spigot to water and I think he even chipped in a hose and a hoe. Good landlord.

          On the other hand when he was up on the roof with a couple of his pals finally fixing the leak he thought it great fun to toss burning cigarette butts, empty beer bottles and Solo cups down on his resident farmer pulling weeds. I could hear the jerks cracking up about it.  Bad landlord.

        Jim had a classic 88 Olds convertible that he loved to cruise in. I was in a road bike racing phase and used to do training laps around Lake of the Isles. Jim liked to cruise the parkways too and thought it was good sport to get right behind the rear wheel of bikes and blare his horn. He did this to me once and when he realized it was his tenant he made a game out of speeding up to the point of running me over before swerving. He waved his Solo cup of vodka and orange in a drunkard’s salute while doing this. Bad landlord.

          Part of the rent deal was using the laundry room in the basement. When the washer broke Jim didn’t get around to fixing it. I had to pack up my dirty clothes and bike em down in a duffel bag to the nearest Laundromat down on Hennepin next to Liquor Lyle’s. Total hassle. A couple of months later we figured out the washer was working again and Jim never told us. Bad landlord. We took to sneaking laundry when the Olds 88 was gone.

        I digress with an anecdote. There was a homeless guy who wandered Uptown known as Birdman because he shuffled around with his arms upraised as if about to take flight. I was doing my laundry once and Birdman was asleep stretched across the seats. Later I heard that Birdman passed away in the place and I had perhaps been sorting socks when he breathed his last. RIP Birdman. 

        Jim enjoyed the company of the ladies. More accurately, prostitutes frequently visited Irving Avenue. I know this because it was hard to miss the parade of hookers going and coming no pun intended. In regard Jim was a pig. He made inappropriate comments about my girlfriend and once invited me join one of his “parties”. No thank you. He also, true story saw with my own eyes, kept a plaster cast of a woman’s enormous breasts in his closet. Bad landlord.

        What. A. Pig.

        Roll call of slacker roommates at Irving Avenue. Bryce, the bass player for the Hypstrz who became an air traffic controller.  Rick the suave tea drinking drummer and loner. Sorry Rick for the time I left a bloody loogie in the sink. Lars, a slacker’s slacker, fellow bartender and dedicated Rasta who taught me to juggle. That recently divorced guy who was a waiter at the Marquette hotel where we both worked. His two small kids would spend every other weekend at Irving Avenue. The odd chain-smoking red haired chick with the catch phrase: “I’m so happy!” She had a boyfriend who dressed in a wizard robe like Peter Gabriel in an MTV video. “Shock the Monkey” maybe. The Scottish guy who rented my room when I was gone for three months on a bike tour.  

        Jim, repugnant oaf that he often was did rent us a great pad in a prime location, perfect for a young slacker man living the dream in mid 80s Minneapolis. And, colorful characters like him remind us of what an entertaining place the world is and that one need never be bored. When I moved out I ditched a bunch of crappy furniture. I biked by soon after and a recliner and ratty couch were smashed on the front yard from having been hurled over the porch in a drunken rage. Sorry Jim. But not that sorry.