Cleaning Up New York
By Bob Rosenthal
Published By The Little Bookroom
Forty years ago, a small publisher called Angel Hair Press printed 750 copies of a memoir titled Cleaning Up New York. Personally, I heard nothing about it at the time, but now the book is being reissued by The Little Bookroom and it’s referred to as “The 70s Cult Classic.”
Cleaning Up New York is Bob Rosenthal’s account of working as a professional housecleaner, partly for the modest income, and partly for the dope he kept finding in strangers’ homes. The author also got to know some of the people he worked for, and there are interesting human stories. I hope he uses pseudonyms for those people.
Mr. Rosenthal, a close associate of Allen Ginsberg, apparently learned housecleaning skills through experience, at the same time he was observing human nature and feeling only semi-comfortable with his own value system.
Many of us who remember tidying up our homes during the 1970s will find it gratifying that the author makes a point of warning that Scott’s Liquid Gold is tough on the respiratory system (Do they still make that stuff?). There’s plenty of advice on cleaning, waxing, etc. throughout the book. It’s an allegory, and each reader will have a slightly different interpretation. A blurb by Richard Hell on the book’s back cover assures us we don’t have to be clean to get something out of this fine memoir.
Richard Hell recommends it. Now, that’s cachet!