The Super: You wanna go up to the roof and oil the circulation pipes with me?
Ira Glass: That really has to be one of the worst pick-up lines ever.
The special relationship that a super has with an array of tenants gives him an enlightened perspective. Meanwhile, he keeps apartment buildings running and that’s all that you have to know about him. Until now, it was perfectly acceptable to keep it at that. For all you know, the professional you see on the daily could be a nightly star on Youporn. Most people don’t look into that, by choice, but also because it is not a world to which a tenant has keys. Ira as landlord of the airwaves lets the man behind the scenes break into the spotlight in The Super.
Act 1: Six stories of dust held up by a hundred layers of paint
The medium of radio beautifully allows the unraveling of more of the story. Hitt, who was Bob’s tenant briefly in the 80s ran into Moscow, the persecuting lawyer of the Killer Landlord. The headlining building owner putting hits on people around town including his residents also happened to be Hitt’s own landlord.
“…Bob was so much more than a terrible handyman.” Nobody would have guessed that the eccentric New York super was on a death squad in South America in a past life, but hey nobody asked. It takes a defense attorney to get Bob’s story under oath during the trial.
The lawyer’s great character analysis is revealing: Beneath all of the fanciful stories, there usually is a substantial amount of truth. Bob is even given the Hannah Arendt treatment, symptomatic of the banality of evil like Eichmann who would in certain contexts do awful things, but when removed and reinsterted in the banal context, you get Bob the Super.
Act 2: I was alarmed and worried it was a con
Another tale about a storytelling super is brought to the attention of Alex Bloomberg in Lala land. When a super crosses paths with a mysterious woman with much je-ne-sais-quoi. Things get even weirder as his tenant, Josh Bearman recollects her proposed business plan.
Act 3: The problem wasn’t them, they have the money, the problem is you, his son
It’s the cliche story of the son of a super who follows his dad’s footsteps. He was flailing to get money out of an ancient couple that struggled with rent after a hard hit. Maybe his Jesuit upbringing at school got in the way of his ability to be a functional super. “It’s so weird because part of it is you have this business relationship with these people but you’re there in their building, you’re there in their house. You know, you own their house.” In the end, he takes on more of a role than a super generally does, becoming a mentor and friend.