A Scheme on a Bluff: The View from Todt Hill Houses

 

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Marcy Houses has Jay-Z; Queensbridge has Nas and Mobb Deep; the most famous former resident of Todt Hill is Drita D’Avanzo, a daughter of Albanian immigrants who grew up in the Houses. This February MC Drita hosted “Louder than Love: Freestyle Valentine’s Ball” in Nassau County, but she is best known as a star of the VH1 reality show “Mob Wives.” Her husband Lee D’Avanzo was arrested under “Operation Turkey Shoot” while breaking into the Richmond County Savings Bank in 2009. He is widely considered the leader of a farm team for the Bonanno and Colombo crime family. Drita defied her parents to marry Lee, but she was with her mother visiting Todt Hill this March. She dropped in on old friends and had her picture taken with a young girl who recognized her. “What are you doing here?” the girl asked. “I was born in this building and lived here for fifteen years.”

The Houses have also been home to Earn EZ, who dodges frog splashes in Staten Island’s upstart DIY pro-wrestling organization Warriors of Wrestling; YouTube rapper Vicki Vicious (“Time’s ticking so I put my life between my bars and sentences”); and Timothy Gardner, currently building what he hopes will be the largest ball of rubber bands in history. Gardner began the ball, which now weighs 420 pounds and is on display at the Snug Harbor Museum, while living in Todt Hill Houses as an 11 year-old.

 

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The Prophets Wore Linen

With Lale Müldür in Istanbul

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While I was pregnant—before I knew I was pregnant—I had a vivid vision. It’s the most vivid vision I ever had. The man I was going out with was reading a book near me, and I said “Something strange is happening to me”…I talked to him throughout the vision. At first I saw V shapes in front of me, green or orange…I was flying, by standing on the V. And I was enjoying myself flying. I can’t say I’ve enjoyed myself that much in any other part of my story. It was a lovely feeling. And I wasn’t making any great effort to fly but I was flying. According to my friend I was there in the room, but I was flying in my mind—if you will—and suddenly…I saw Jesus and his twin…very beautiful, a very beautiful guy. I didn’t understand the twin for many years, until a friend of mine told me that according to the Dead Sea Scrolls, Jesus does have a twin! But Jesus didn’t smile at me, he just looked at me very distantly…And then I saw Muhammad. He had black hair to his shoulders and white skin, a beautiful man still, but not as beautiful as Jesus Christ [another burst of laughter]. He talked to me, but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. He gave me an empty flowerpot, and he was smiling at me, so I felt better.…So it was Muhammad that made me happy, obviously. And then suddenly I came down….And I said ‘Why? Why am I here again?’ [laughter] ‘I was so happy up there,’ I said.

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