Back in 1961, a photographer snapped a picture of President Kennedy that would later be titled “the loneliest job in the world.” It was full of symbolism and it was black-and-white and Kennedy would be assassinated two short years later and Jesus, does anyone really care about all of this? Probably not. Sorry.
Anyway, earlier this week the New York Times published a photo that takes a dump all over the notion that President of the United States is the loneliest job in the world. It was an unassuming, and likely meticulously posed, photograph of a single lawyer. A single lawyer with the weight of the world — and a crumbling legal market — on his shoulders.
A single lawyer… squatting in the Empire State Building….
So the lonely squatter’s name is Daniel K. Perlman. For approximately seven months, he worked, all by himself, out of a 3,000-square-foot office in the iconic Empire State Building. Rent-free.
The Times story does a good job of breaking down exactly how Perlman came to be so lonely and so squatty. Basically, it’s a microcosm of our rotten economy, with mortgage brokers disappearing, followed shortly by a lawyer hanging out wondering where the good times went. And staring out of a window. If the picture isn’t sad enough, the article is littered with the kind of details normally found in a Sylvia Plath poem. Take this sentence:
In a city of fame and power, he has neither.
That’s right. The 2-1-2. And it continues:
It was a ghost of a suite. Most of the rooms were barren, but fragments of office life remained — unplugged fax machines, a pouch of Fairway French roast coffee on a shelf. The digital clock on the microwave in the break room was 1 hour 28 minutes off.
I mean, for f**k’s sake. It’s the end of the world as Daniel K. Perlman knows it, and instead of feeling fine, he’s an hour and 28 minutes late to every goddamned meeting. And if that’s not enough, we have to hear Perlman explain away his squatting with the following:
“I didn’t think of it as a scam,” Mr. Perlman said. “If I’m guilty of anything, I’m guilty of procrastinating.”
You know who else is guilty of procrastinating? Tax cheats. And deadbeat dads. [/snark]
Listen, it’d be easy to laugh at this attorney caught popping a squat in one of the most famous buildings in the world. But instead of laughing, let’s all marvel at the proverbial phoenix rising from its proverbial ashes proverbially. Just like the legal profession as a whole, Perlman is on the come-up. He’s got new digs on West 37th (updated on his website just yesterday; CHECK YOU GOOGLE CACHE).
And thus ends what will likely be a hilarious story for Perlman’s grandpuppies, and a pretty cool framed New York Times article for his new office.
Feel free to have a good group cry in the comments or, alternatively, tell everyone how much you can squat.* Pay your rent, kids.
* More than you.
At Empire State Building, a 40th Floor Squatter [New York Times]