Exile on Hart St.

Honestly, I was prepared to cite procrastination as the reason this post hadn’t gone up at the beginning of August 1, when I actually moved into my new place, and just feel bad about it as usual.

First of all, it’s not the blogging that I’ve been procrastinating; it’s just that having an editing queue multiple (paid and pro bono) projects deep leads to a journey of a guilt trip that makes The Lord of the Rings trilogy look like a quick errand to drop off something at the jeweler. That was a really long way of saying, it’s a hell of a guilt trip if I blog before I finish my editing.

And secondly, I now have the luxury of hindsight to look at the big picture of my Wacky Housing Adventure, and its sequel, The Long-Term Effects of my Wacky Housing Adventure, coming to theaters the summers of 2015 and 2017, respectively.

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So from mid-March through the end of July, my living situation was in a constant state of uncertainty and flux, with a healthy dollop of stress dreams and low self esteem due to trying and failing to impress potential roommates, who happened to have really high standards. Only the select chosen few get to live in a $625 room with a bay window in Ridgewood! I know that’s a bit of a downer to hear, but that’s how it is. Keep in mind this story has a happy ending.

Looking back, it’s all a blur now though. There was a lot of Craigslist surfing (we all know how that goes), getting my computer repaired literally days before the warranty ran out, a few disorienting mornings waking up in pitch blackness on the couch, lots of filming and the associated running around Manhattan, as well as the associated getting yelled at by a guy pulling a cart up subway stairs, and most excitingly, a trip across New York State to Niagara Falls and the Thousand Islands with Kristina and her mom.

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As I detailed in a previous post, post-Greenpoint I moved in with Kristina for two months. It was a strange, transitional period in the middle of a larger strange transitional period. Which, if you really want to get all transitional Inception about it (transception?) was in the middle of an even larger strange transitional period, that one being the one that began around this time last year when I first decided to strike out on my own as a freelancer.

bwaaaaaaaaaa

Just like finding a place to live, it’s been an uphill battle the whole way–for the longest time gigs weren’t that common and I just barely paid the bills, and only in the past couple months have the gigs really piled up, increasing my money but really decreasing my time. But it’s all great experience, and I’ve even found the time to start watching Doctor Who on Netflix. And, oh yeah, I can afford a Netflix account now.

So now I have a new place to live, and it’s the best place I’ve lived so far. All the problems my previous places have had (lack of windows, being located in Bushwick, poor maintenance, scumbag mice, scumbag landlords, lack of oven, lack of freezer) are no longer an issue here. It’s really easy to take having an oven for granted. Not having one for two years has made me really excited at all the possibilities I have now.

And with that, my exile comes to a close.

So, You’re A Couch Surfer: An Open Letter To Myself

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My new (temporary) digs was considered by xoJane.com to be “classy as hell”

Hey, you.

(Hey, me!)

Well, this is a fine rut you’ve gotten yourself into; crashing on your girlfriend’s couch with all your furniture in storage, nearly 3 years after moving to New York. Who would have thought that after living here for 3 years, you’d be back to square one like someone who just came up here? Just how bad did New York kick your ass anyway?

(Well…)

Never mind, I don’t need to hear your version; I’m sure it’s self-pitying and depressing. Whereas my version will be all meta and self-aware! You like those things, don’t you?

(Hell yeah!)

So, from what I can tell, here’s what happened, going as far back as necessary to know the whole story: After about a year of shifting around from place to place in Brooklyn, roughly 2 years ago you found a “permanent” place in Greenpoint, a room in a hastily converted attic apartment on a month-to-month basis with no lease. It was pretty shady from the get-go–the landlords never fixed anything (in fact, you never even met them). As it turned out, they owed nearly a million dollars in back taxes. But hey, at least they never raised the rent!

Not to say I blame you for taking that place. Given the state of housing in NYC, it’s not like you had many other options available. Rents here are so stupidly astronomically high that you couldn’t hope to afford your own place unless you had an endless supply of regenerating kidneys to sell on the black market, and that’s not even taking into account the cabal of landlords’ absurd insistance that you have to make 40 times the rent. On top of that, even if you had roommates to go in with on an apartment, each of you would need to submit a Library of Congress-sized stack of personal documents.

No, what you had to do was to constantly scour listings for open rooms, which brings a set of obstacles all its own, namely the thousands of other people attempting the exact same thing. This leads to mountains of emails that may or may not be answered, followed by interviews that boil down to:

Hello, there. I am normal. I am asking you to trust me when I say that I am normal. I am not, however, too normal. I am not so normal that I am not interesting. Because I am extremely interesting.

Also I am not poor. I am so not poor that, as requested, I am bringing a large stack of documents proving that I am, in fact, not poor.

This process repeats until an interviewer decides that yes, you may grace their presence on a day-to-day basis. And that’s what happened at the month-to-month place in Greenpoint.

And it was great! And with each passing month, you forgot more and more of the shadiness of the situation, and grew more and more attached to the roommates who said they were so glad that you were a part of their community. But you knew in the back of your mind that it had to end eventually, and that end came quite a bit sooner than you had thought.

The new landlords bought the building, and took over as an LLC, with the express purpose of making money. They made that purpose clear when they came in and announced that the rent will be raised on the current tenants from $2200 for the whole apartment to $3000, an $800 increase (roughly 40%). That would mean that each tenant would have to pay $1000 per person to live with roommates. Somehow the thought of anyone paying $1000 to live with roommates always boggled your mind, but to these landlords it’s just day-to-day business, and what they expect you to accept unconditionally.

Now, the next step was important, and could have been handled a number of different ways, but a lot of your options dried up when your two roommates (the same ones who mentioned several times that they were glad you were a part of their community) selected a new third roommate and found a new 3 bedroom apartment somewhere else, leaving you behind to deal with the landlords.

But you were undeterred! After calling up an advocacy group to see what rights tenants have to protect them against massive rent increases from landlords (answer: tenants actually have no rights, and landlords can legally charge whatever massive hike their tiny, hardened walnut-hearts desire), you learned that all you could do was try to negotiate a fair price and fill the vacant rooms. You couldn’t fill the rooms without settling a price; it wouldn’t be fair to bring new people into such an unstable situation.

Sadly, no amount of Christmas carols made the landlord's walnut heart grow. Probably because it was a walnut.

Sadly, no amount of Christmas carols made the landlord’s walnut heart grow. Probably because it was a walnut.

Unfortunately, the landlords were simply uninterested in agreeing to an increase that was fair to the tenants who had been living in the building they had just purchased. After all, they had paid 10,000 whole dollars for that foreclosed building! There was money to be made! So you decided to put all this behind you, get some roommates, and find another apartment.

Well, apartment hunting wasn’t successful. After trying to find places with different-sized groups of people, and finally deciding to go in with 2 other people for a 3-bedroom apartment, one pulled out, and then the other. And then, for the last 10-or-so days of May, it was just you, looking for a room, trying to convince people that you’d make an acceptable roommate. This was the worst part, and also not successful.

So that’s how you ended up here. Moving Day was kind of a blur, and after a lot of bullying and harassment from the little guy who does all the landlord’s dirty work for him, you gave him the keys and delivered a sort of half-satisfying tell-off the following day. And now you’re probably wondering if leaving was the right choice, as the other tenants said that you should have stuck it out for longer. But as crappy as it was for your old roommates to leave you behind, they had the right idea to get out as soon as they smelled something fishy. Now that you’re couch-surfing and have a month or two to find a place, it’s almost as if you’re starting over in New York. Lots of people come to New York and begin their time here couch surfing, but in your case, you’ve already gotten a three-year head start. Put all those connections and experience to good use, and consider this your New York Renaissance!

It Was May

I really should have paid more attention. 90s ramen-noodle haired Justin Timberlake’s clarion call of “it’s gonna be May” shouldn’t have been read as celebratory; no, it was a warning. And I should have heeded the warning, just as Caesar should have bewared the Ides of March!

Maybe I’m being a bit overdramatic; it’s not like I was stabbed repeatedly by a bunch of treacherous senators, I just ended up without a place to live for a while. Most of the stuff I’ve accumulated over the past two years is in storage now, and the day that I moved it all into storage went by as such a blur that I can barely remember it in a coherent manner.

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Stay tuned next week to learn how I got into this mess!

It’s Gonna Be May

Today is April 30th. It’s a significant day for two reasons:

  1. April 30 is apparently Time For Jason to Churn Out a Silly, Ridiculous, Half-Joking, Last Minute Blog Post Day, and
  2. its gonna be may

Look, I’m not even going to try and make the outrageous claim that I came up with this particular pun(?), even if I had thought to do it last year when there was still a bit of a novelty factor. Basically, as my weird annual obsession with Bill Nye, Snoop Dogg and Randy Savage* mashed up via their respective theme songs that somehow fit together perfectly with What Is Love seems to show, I’m more or less perpetually stuck in the Internet of Yesteryear.

*Side note: I’ve recently learned that after Randy Savage’s death, Charles Barkley has risen up to take his place as the (literal) face of the Space Jam theme song, and all its respective mashups: 

I’m pretty certain this association stems from the game Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, or at least its amazing trailer:

So is the fact that today’s post opens with a reference to a meme that apparently only just surfaced last year on here a sign of progress? Then again, the meme itself references a song from 13 years ago–perhaps if I keep moving backwards with my references the Internet will catch up with me? Or I’ll catch up with the Internet? Considering the nostalgic obsessions of youth were the 80s when I was in high school, the 90s when I was in college, and the early 2000s now, perhaps in just a couple more years the Internet will catch up to my beloved circa-2005-06 Snoop Nye the Slam Guy mashup and latch onto that, bringing everything full circle. On like the fourth or fifth hand, that mashup pretty much references All the 90s Ever.

Here I saved you the trouble of Googling "all the 90s ever"

Here I saved you the trouble of Googling “all the 90s ever”

Wow, I really wasn’t planning on making today’s post into such a long, confusing reflection on nostalgia, references, The Internet, and Charles Barkley. (Another side note: “The Internet and Charles Barkley” sounds like the title of an awesome short story, play, musical, and/or film, possibly as a sequel to “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” which by extension I know about because of the Simpsons Halloween episode co-written by Conan O’Brien.)

The actual purpose of this post was again, for two reasons:

  1. To alert readers that no, I haven’t forgotten this blog and yes, I am planning on posting more regularly starting in May. There’s been quite a lot going on job-wise, apartment-wise and life-wise, and I’ve simply had to put this particular blog and its childish illustrations on the back-burner, sadly. When I have to focus on things like eating and paying the rent first, this is the most expendable thing I have going on. Not that I enjoy expending it. In the coming weeks I’ll share some more about some of the crazy things that have been going on, as well as some silly posts about GIFs or something.
  2. its gonna be may

This Just In: Craigslist is Still a Cesspool

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A couple years ago, I wrote a post that rustled a few jimmies. The takeaway here was that the Internet is a place for dicks to put their dickery on proud display, and many were using Craigslist gig listings as a vehicle for their dickery, effectively turning a once useful tool into a forum on whether or not unpaid gigs have the right to exist there.

When I was looking for some help in creating a web series back when I had little to no connections here, I incurred a little wrath and couldn’t keep my post up for more than 20 minutes. I wasn’t happy about it at the time, but right now I’d like to change my tune and say that unpaid gigs are rather annoying to have to sift through to find anything worth my time, now that I’m searching for gigs myself and can’t really afford to take on unpaid ones.

So yeah, I’ve changed my mind. But as you can see in the above image, Craigslist hasn’t really changed at all. Literally more than half of those posts are nothing more than bickering back and forth on the virtues of flagging, with people proudly claiming allegiance to the “pro-flagging” or “anti-flagging” camps, as if the act of “flagging” is some sort of high-minded political movement. Take it down a notch, guys.

"If thou art indeed of the No Flags Crusade, then why dost thou carry a flag that states thine cause?"

“If thou art indeed of the No Flags Crusade, then why dost thou carry a flag that states thine cause?”

And then there’s this video which, like the whole gig feed warzone, gives me some pretty mixed feelings:

Like, I get it. I agree with what’s being said here, but not entirely with the way it’s being said. For most of the video, it’s pretty spot on, and covers all my pet peeves when I’m looking for gigs (insistence on applicants having a RED EPIC stands out as an especially annoying one), but near the end, it descends from satirical humor into angry ranting. Angry ranting is really hard to pull off by even the best comedians, and even then the humor is pretty subjective. Like when the guy with glasses is all flustered, sputtering “No pay!!! NO PAY!!!” right into the camera, what is that? That’s where the video loses me. That’s where it crosses the line into cynical, and I just don’t like cynicism. Sorry. (I’m not sorry.)

It’s an interesting issue. And I think it should be discussed. I just don’t think that gig listings are the right place for this sort of thing. If there’s a takeaway for today’s post, it’s this:

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I don’t know, maybe I’m overreacting. Craigslist isn’t so bad. At least there’s still the job listi-

Oh.

Oh.

Yeah, maybe I should just stick to Mandy.