Joe Peltz, a young man in 1980s New York, buys into a squatter tenement in the Lower East Side neighborhood where his immigrant grandparents first settled, hoping to make a life for his new wife Annabelle and the baby they have on the way. From the start, the former tenants of the apartment, and heads of "the corporation" that run the co-op, warn Joe and Annabelle that living in the building will be more than they bargained for, and that their relationship may not survive. Joe's Uncle Yakov is constantly reminding him that his "war zone" is not his grandmother's neighborhood anymore--there are junkies sleeping in his grandfather's old tailor shop, the building where his mother was born is now a vacant lot, you can't even find the synagogue, and the corner bodega has been shut down for selling human meat. But this apartment is all they can afford, and Joe is determined to make it work. As Joe struggles to keep himself and his marriage together, the building's problems begin to take over his life: the never-ending "board meetings" about whose responsibility it is to sleep in the doorway to keep the junkies out; the constant debate about how to get rid of Carlos, a bully who refuses to pay rent because he lived in the building before everyone else; the hoodlum antics of Carlos' teenage son Segundo; grungy goddess Scarlet bed-hopping her way through all her of the male tenants, from underground artist Spike, to home boy Negrito, to part-time grad student/political activist Butch; and drag queen Delilah keeping everyone abreast of the latest gossip. All of the simmering tensions in the building come to a boil when a mysterious fire erupts in Carlos' apartment, and Joe, now President of "the corporation," is assigned the task of dealing with it.


Alan Taylor