In "Visions of Johanna", when Bob Dylan says "and the heat pipes just cough", he was talking about number 6 here on 127th St. And it's no "tut, tut I've caught a bit of a cold". It is a deep and thick pneumonia which plagues our heat pipes, and they clang and struggle for every breath.
The sound is weirdly impressive. I'm told it's just water in the pipes, but I still kinda don't believe it. It sounds more like someone in the apartment below us is trying to send avante-garde, Morse code messages to the people two apartments above us, using a wrench and an aluminum baseball bat. After about one clang, the sound just becomes alarmingly annoying.
The first time I heard the sound, I was pleasantly (or at least that's how I imagine my unconscious self) asleep on my mattress on the floor of my bedroom. Surfacing from deep and stuporous sleep, I quickly formulated several theories:
1) some trees between the buildings were banging on the fire escape.
2) someone is doing an incredibly non-stealthly job stealing the not very much we have in our apartment.
3) a person with metal, un-jointed limbs was climbing up the fire escape to break into our apartment.
I can't say I was in full commitment to theory #3, but it was certainly the most interesting to think about, and seemed to most match the sound. The key then, I've found is to fall asleep between coughing fits. Which is where I'm off to right now. Sandman, here I come.