Stargazing. Elvis is in the Building

By Ariel Leve.

Last week I was leaving my building when I saw Michael, my doorman carrying two black guitar cases through the lobby, followed by a man who looked very similar to Elvis Costello. I live in the West Village in Manhattan - so every man looks like Elvis Costello. But this time, it turns out, it was Elvis Costello - and he has moved into my apartment block.

But why would he be in my building? "There probably wasn't anything available at 59 West 12th," my friend Laura offers, as though stating the obvious. Fifty-nine West 12th is a Fifth Avenue-style prewar up the street. Isaac Mizrahi lives there. "Or maybe he just uses it for his equipment. You know - like a storage space."

My building is fine - very convenient - it has an affable doormen, a brilliant handyman and a great laundry room in the basement. It's just not the sort of place where you imagine a rock star would live. There are about 15 apartments per floor with dark green carpeted hallways that are vacuumed once a week. I'm known as 17Y. As in: "Seventeen-Y - you got dry cleaning!"

I've never thought of my building as a desirable address but, then again, I live in the dead zone. This is the back of the building that faces the back of the building next door. Sometimes, between two and three in the afternoon, if I open the window and tilt far to the left, I can tell it's a sunny day.

"There are some beautiful apartments in this building!" says Joe, the other doorman, somewhat defensively. "Why wouldn't he want to live here?"

I guess I couldn't believe that out of all the apartment buildings in New York, Costello (floor unknown), would move somewhere so un-hip. There are families with mezuzahs on the door. There are tenants from when the building was first built. There are three elevators, two of which are clogged with strollers and bicycles and rain-soaked Chinese food deliverymen. The third is permanently out of order. Shouldn't he be in a loft in Tribeca?

"Maybe he couldn't get approved anywhere else." Bill, 22B, suggests. New York co-op boards are notoriously picky. When I applied to get in to this building, my interview took place with Mrs Rosenblatt, 3F. I sat on her plastic-covered sofa and answered questions along the lines of: "Do you own - or ever intend to own - a dog that barks?" And when she discovered I was a writer her eyes widened. "What kind of writer?" She asked, suspiciously. "A quiet one," I replied. I can only imagine her tone when she interviewed Costello. "A musician? Really. What kind of musician?"

The other day I heard someone practicing scales on the piano. It went on for ages and I was going to call to say something but then I thought twice. What if it was him? The last thing I want is to be the person complaining about Elvis Costello making too much "noise" on the piano.