Saturday, January 5, 2008
During an era of 'ethnic cleansing', Nataliya's parents escaped from their village in a small eastern European country which no longer officially exists and managed to safely cross the Atlantic with their children. While her parents toiled in the wage-slave industries to make ends meet, Nataliya grew up on the streets of the city, regularly singing with siblings and others in their immigrant community street festivals. When her youngest brother landed in prison for murder, Nataliya served a brief sentence for harboring a fugitive. She married and divorced within a year of graduating from high school, then decided to pursue a career as a hair stylist and began working her way through beauty college as a part-time housekeeper in the Ticonderoga. Late one night last year, she discovered Lester Davison on the subway and they fell for each other like the deuce in a house of cards. She convinced Angel to give Lester a steady gig and in no time flat, our young lovers were writing and occasionally performing together; if you're a regular, you've already witnessed Nataliya's haunting voice slinking its way around Lester's puckish piano stylings in the Troubador lounge.
Before running away to the city with a local truck driver, Maria was brought up in an isolated farming community out west with several siblings and cousins, occasionally attending bilingual classes in a tiny schoolhouse. When the truck driver left her to return to his wife, Maria found herself homeless, unemployed and alone, living 2,000 miles away from her estranged family. It was late autumn and she was five months pregnant with nothing more than a five dollar bill in her pocket when Francis hired her. He put her in a room with another housekeeper and she went to cleaning rooms and laundry the next day. Soon afterwards, Maria was introduced to a childless couple, Mark and Penny, who later agreed to adopt her baby. In Room 505 early the following year, during the city's worst snowstorm, Bonita Ray was born, and every other morning at 9 AM sharp, Penny brings the little one to visit Mama Maria at the hotel.
Monday, December 31, 2007
As the hotel's chief of security, Julius endeavors to act in the best interests of the guests and staff--whether the crisis he's dealing with is a lost child, a missing purse, or a drunken brawl. Prior to his stint with the Ticonderoga, Julius was the head of a successful security and investigations agency, from which he retired after the accidental death of his beloved canine comrade, Mojo (whom, incidentally, Julius later had stuffed and mounted.) A cousin of Francis Blum and the son of taxidermists, Julius has always been a lover of animals (living and dead) and manages a sizable collection of stuffed birds and mounted insects, not to mention several aquariums filled with various live arachnidian, reptilian, amphibious and aquatic creatures.
Sunday, December 30, 2007
Ignacio came to the country in the back of a truck when he was 17 years old. The distant relatives he arrived with were all captured and deported, but Ignacio traveled further north with an accordion, performing on street corners and occasionally finding work as a day laborer in construction crews, orchards, poultry plants and restaurant kitchens on his way to the city. "Iggy" previously worked with Maria in a small restaurant--when he was slightly more literate than legal--and taught her how to play the guitar while she tutored him to read and write Spanish and English, and (with Jim Battery's help) he obtained a work visa. Today, he dreams of bringing his family safely over the border and opening his own nightclub in the city. He usually spends his evenings off playing traditional corridos with a small conjunto band in various local cantinas, taquerias and subway trains.