Thursday, May 26, 2005
First, the good news: it's over. I have found an apartment and - hallelujah - Jason Mulgrew is returning to downtown New York City. Saloons hide your spirits and fathers lock up your daughters, because it's on. I'm back and I have some catching up to do.
No more 50 minute commutes to and from work, no more $22 cab rides from bars at 4am, no more thinking to myself, "Well, I could go out tonight, but the bar is 87 blocks south, and I'm here on my couch eating slices of cheese getting high and watching 'Friday'...looks like I'm not going out tonight!" From this point forward, everything is better. Except I think I have diabetes. I ate a whole carrot cake last night and either fainted or had a seizure. But that's not important right now.
Goodbye Upper East Side and hello...Little Italy. I know, I know - it's not as hip as the Lower East Side or as sophisticated as Soho or as trendy as Tribeca, but I can walk to all those places in ten, five, and fifteen minutes, respectively. I'm less concerned with the name of the neighborhood and more concerned with the fact that for the first time since I lived in "Where the hell are we again?" Brooklyn (Bay Ridge) I have a living area large enough to accommodate a dining room table or a second refrigerator dedicated solely to beer and mayo and it will take me 18 minutes door-to-door to get to work. Joy. So try to bring me down. I dare you.
But let's backtrack a little here. As usual, I'm all hopped up on Red Bull and lunchmeat and I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's take it from the top.
I can't express what an incredible pain in the ass looking for an apartment in New York City is. Aside from death, heartbreak, and a severe wound to the genital area, I can think of nothing worse. And we're talking severe genital wound here - think less of "My bird got stuck in a door jamb" and more "One thousand bees stung my scrotum and someone punched me in the face and also my dog died." I guess that last one includes death, but you get the point.
The problem is simple: everyone wants to live in NYC. Everyone. Every asshole with a dream and a willingness to overpay comes to the Big Apple to make it. So as a renter, you have this in mind when you're viewing prospective apartments and you realize that if you like something, there's no time for indecision. You can see an apartment at 1pm, discuss its merits with your roommate for an hour, call the broker to say you'll put in an application at 2:30, and it'll already be gone. To say competition is intense is an understatement.
You know who else knows that everyone wants to live in NYC? Landlords. Thus they can charge whatever the hell they want because they know some idiot will pay it. My roommate Brian and I saw about twenty apartments over the past few weeks and most of them were so egregiously overpriced that there was nothing to do after viewing them besides getting drunk. I'm serious, we'd finish seeing some shit-hole, look at each other, and say in our best Walter Sobchak voice, "Fuck it dude - let's get some beers."
[And don't email me telling me that's not the exact quote. I know he says, "Let's go bowling" but there are no decent places in NYC to bowl and there are lots of places to get beers. And don't email me telling me to go to Bowlmore, because that place sucks and it's super expensive. Thank you.]
My personal favorite apartment was a two-bedroom gem on the sixth floor of a walk-up in the heart of Chinatown. This apartment featured such amenities as...a hallway! A 4x4 kitchen! A bathroom with a dead cockroach in the tub! And two "cozy" bedrooms - one 10x8, one 8x7! All for the low, low price of $1800 a month! Sure, there was no living room and no a single closest in the whole apartment, but at least it was on the sixth floor and the building smelled like stale Chinese food and cat piss.
That was the worst one that we saw, but there were other comparable apartments. I won't bore you with the details not because I care about boring you, but because reliving parts of this experience sends me into epileptic fits that end only in some sort of ritual cutting. Bad, bad stuff.
So when Brian and I saw our future home, it was a revelation. A giant living area, one large bedroom (for me, paying more), one smaller bedroom (for Brian, paying less), new hardwood floors throughout, a new kitchen, a new bathroom, and only one floor up.
And the location - yowza! I can now walk to work in the same amount of time it takes me to ride the subway to work! As mentioned above, I'm also within walking distance of all the areas I go out, and my monthly cab expenditures will go from about $150 a month to around $40 or so a month! I will actually have a social life again! Can you tell I'm excited about this???
Of course, there are drawbacks. Little Italy is essentially one street, Mulberry Street, that runs from Canal to Houston, less than a half mile long. This street is filled (and by filled I mean "overcrowded to the point of a fire hazard") with tourists shopping, eating, and buying t-shirts that say "Welcome to Little Italy" and "Italian 4-Eva", as well as all "The Sopranos" merchandise you could ever want. The good news is that my apartment is not on Mulberry Street, but rather on one of the less crowded cross streets intersecting Mulberry. Believe it or not, this makes a big difference.
And I love Italian people. I really do. 75% of my diet is Italian food, and they have beautiful women in Italy. But sometimes I'm not so hot on the way they celebrate their heritage. I'm not so sure their ancestors would approve of all the hair gel, eyebrow waxing, and horrible suits, but this is coming from someone who's great-grandparents came from Ireland and Poland, so I guess I really shouldn't be judging here. I'm just pointing this out because I find it comical that I'm moving to a building that is painted the colors of the Italian flag. And yes, I'm serious.
What's strange about Little Italy though is that it is completely surrounded by Chinatown. Like I mentioned, Little Italy is one long street. If you go one block west or east, it's like you were transported to a market in Beijing (apparently, there's an old joke that says, Q: What's the worst thing about Little Italy? A: The Chinese). The contrast is that startling.
[I want to stress that I don't consider living among the Italians and the Chinese a drawback. We here at jasonmulgrew.com are and have always been very tolerant, mostly because we're looking to do the rainbow. The drawback is the crowds that take over the area. Sadly, I'm going to have to keep my curtains closed when I get out of the shower, lest I go back to jail on yet another obscenity charge. Stupid laws.]
But that's really the only complaint I have, and I think I can deal with crowds. Of course I realize that every major decision I've made in the past 25 years has been a bad one, so I wouldn't be shocked if my blog entry of August 8, 2005 is titled, "Why I hate living in Little Fucking Italy" followed by one on September 23, 2005 "I am so fucking sick of Italian and Chinese people" and another on October 2, 2005 called "I killed a Chinese couple last night."
Right now, everything is wonderful. I envision myself eating dinner at the restaurant below my apartment, talking easily with the waiters and staff, who have become my friends and know me as "The Beast from Upstairs". Perhaps I will find myself a nice Chinese girlfriend, and our love with blossom like a flower despite the fact that her parents despise me because a few weeks earlier I shook down her live-in aunt for $240. Every night I will alternate between chicken parm and General Tso's chicken for dinner, and I will die in three months a well-fed and happy man.
However, the bad news: I actually have to move there this weekend. The truck has been rented and some things have already been packed, but it's going to be a doozy. I'm not sure where we're going to park a 17' foot U-Haul in the crowded streets of Little Italy/Chinatown. Adding to the aggravation is the fact that parents will be involved, so I'll have my mom yelling about how dirty my place is and my dad shaking his head in disgust as I'm not strong enough to carry any pots or pans. Ugh. So Ben, Brian and I are determined to wake up early Saturday, drink a couple of Red Bulls, and jump head-first into a big pile of cocaine to kick-start the day. Wish us luck.
[I'm just kidding Mom and Dad, I don't do hard drugs. I only make the cocaine jokes because the people reading eat it up. They fucking eat - it - up. I assure you that if you see Ben, Brian and I acting strangely - Brian stopping suddenly to do push-ups, Ben screaming at the top of his lungs about how "fucking unbelievably strong" he is, and me going on and on about how I "own this town" and how my poop is the size of a mini-van - I assure you it's all because of too much caffeine. Mostly.]