His Postcard View
The 21st floor porch overlooking the water at East River Housing offers the ultimate eye candy...
by Margaret Mitchell
Jim Miller is very good at expressing gratitude. It's not so hard to figure out why: just stand on his 21st floor porch in the afternoon, when the soft sun is caressing the East River from the west, reflecting off the glorious latticework of the Williamsburg Bridge on the your left, and the Brooklyn dry docking yards on your right, and the vast expanse of river and boats and the park right 'neath your feet...
A burly, hardworking man, born into a Massapequa union family who are all movie grips, Jim wanted to do landscaping. But he gave in to pressure ("My uncle said I needed to expand my horizons") and came to the big city at age 20, ready to grip.
"We did every movie in New York," he relates, and reels off titles like Fatal Attraction, Cadillac Man, The Fisher King, State of Grace. He now owns an equipment rental company for film and TV productions, and in the last ten years has shifted to working mainly for television, most notably Oz.
"A lot of people from the film industry live in these buildings," he confides, pointing out that show-biz professionals are coming down here in droves "not only because the cost of living is reasonable, but the life here is better. This is more like a neighborhood."
A few years ago he separated from his wife and decided to move to the city (although he retained a home on the Island). His son is a frequent visitor, and Jim hopes when the day comes the young man will choose a high school in the city.
On his list of fun things, other than spending time with his boy, Jim mentions his great passion, the Harley Davidson, which he rides up and down the east coast (along with his girlfriend) every chance he gets.
After 9/11 he and his employees volunteered for a month at Ground Zero, trucks and all. "We did pick-ups, deliveries, moving and hauling, we transported people to funerals. They couldn't believe how efficient we were, with our transportation coordinators, all Teamsters, who can get around the city like nobody can."
At one point he used his special-effects rain maker, a container truck that doused the poisonous dust emanating from the site with a small monsoon.
During that time Jim became friendly with Father Brian Jordan, the president of Worldwide Children's Foundation (wwcf.org), which identifies poor children in dire medical need and helps with the complex arrangements needed to provide them with the care that will save their lives. Jim told his new friend to call on him if he needed his help, and Father Brian grabbed the offer.
"He called and said he was going to Ecuador to pick up this boy who had a heart disease, and needed help with the tickets." One thing led to another and they ended up flying together and bringing the child back. "He was 18 months old, he couldn't walk, he was jaundiced, wouldn't smile--a month after he had the operation he was hugging my son, running, it was beautiful."
Jim liked the charity action so much, he became a member of its board, and convinced his biker friends to donate the proceeds of their charity bike rides to the WWCF. "This beautiful child would have died if not for us," he says plainly. When weather conditions turn too rough to sit on the porch, Jim Miller's apartment offers a cozy, clean-lined shelter from the elements. So far he hasn't knocked down any walls or introduced any other drastic change, other than a really neat job of sanding the floors and painting the walls. He even left in place the original tenant's floor-to-ceiling mirror, which stretches the length of one living room wall, perhaps a mid-60's attempt to make the room appear twice as big. Jim did spruce up the kitchen a bit, with a new floor and better cabinets.
Final advice: should you happen to receive an invitation next summer to come to a barbecue on Jim miller's porch--Go!