Saturday, June 21, 2008

An Overly Complicated and Elaborate System of Ownership and Rules - Cities & Feaudalism

A couple of weeks ago I was in New York interviewing for a job. Currently I'm living with my sister in Baltimore for free. As I was interviewing I started to explore what it would mean to get an apartment up in New York. The day of my interview I ran into an old classmate from college and who's now a real estate agent. When I told him I wanted help finding an apartment, and that I wanted to pay no more than $2000/month, he brushed me off saying "oh that's way to low I don't work with people like you". I don't think he meant to be mean... he was just looking out for himself.

So there I was yet AGAIN staring down the prospect of paying too much rent, for too little space, for who knows how long. Probably handing over a third of my income to some self interested stranger just so I can go to work in New York City. Reality was sinking in fast. I don't think I can afford New York. Not emotionally, not financially, not now.

In history classes I learned about feudalism, where the people who owned the land sat around and didn't actually do anything while they had the people who didn't own a thing doing all the work for them as slaves. Today we say we're free but actually it's the opposite, the cities are where the landlords concentrate in a much more complicated and elaborate system of ownership and rules. It's weird. I thought the whole part of being a free American was so that we could escape the old European style of elitism. How can anybody pursue life liberty and happiness if they are saddled with a mortgage they only chose because there was no better choice?

What is a normal person to do in the gray market housing reality of 2008?

Meanwhile, land out in the countryside is cheap. Affordable. Sure there aren't modern art museums in the country but... who needs modern art? Who really needs it? Just another bubble for some body else to decide to over-inflate. What people need is to be able to live their lives and to fulfill their happiness. Not to line the pockets of a bunch of landlords and wannabe landlords who are now desperate speculators. I wish this whole country would go on a housing boycott for the summer. Sisters move in together. Grown children moving back in with mom and dad. Brothers and cousins sharing a mc-mansion, splitting expenses. Friends helping friends. How scary is that idea? to the elitists, the bankers, the apartment building owners and slumlords? That a tenant would rather just go back home than buy your crap. Let the crash come. Lets have a full reset.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

A Good Bad Feeling

It's June 1st and I'm sitting outside working on my tan blissfully removed from all human contact. I cannot hear anything, no conversations or cars. No beeps or rings from anything. No motorized gardening tools. Just the bugs and the breeze. My friend's West Virginia farm (where I happen to be) is like the Garden of Eden, not for years have I had this much solitude and peace. But if I'm in heaven, then why do I feel so bad?

My only link to the outside, the Sunday Washington Post, sits at my feet reminding me of The Rest of The World. This, I think, is the biggest social network in these parts. What do all the people around here actually do for fun? Hunt? Barbecue? Drink beer on their front porches? Drive trucks? Is that culture? I resumed tanning.

Earlier, grocery shopping at the nearest market 20 minutes away, I have never in my life seen so many pork products. I had no idea you could buy bacon in 20 lb cases. There are foam containers holding little cakes of made of port fat and god only knows what. I think it's called scrapple? There were more varieties of Kool-Aide than there were vegetables. The most nutritious thing they sold was the Post. I am only two hours outside of the Capital of the Free World, I thought. Why can't people eat real food here? You don't see Italians 2 hours outside of Rome eating complete crap!

Back to tanning with Washington Post in hand. My mind keeps jumping from reality to the now and back. I start making a to-do list in my mind, then I remind myself that I'm trying to relax. It's the beginning of Summer, I have everything and nothing to do. I think about living out here in the relaxing peacefulness all summer long. I could get really tan! I think, and paint a lot! A hermit artist living in the country (eating pork). It feels really good to be so removed from the world, but I miss people. I wonder how many West Virginians Twitter? What would their status messages be? "Lee Roi is loving a cold one on the stoop." Then I think back to my to-dos, more like wants, ambitions and I start to feel bad... bad about my lack of accomplishment. Whats the point in drawing pictures if I have nobody to share it with? Who around here would I even want to appreciate my tan? There's no social inspiration in West Virginia and I guess that's the point. All or nothing. If there were, then this would be like Napa Valley and I'd be paying for peace. I'd only be able to afford a couple of nights of it. It would be a bad good feeling, instead of a good bad one. I could stay here, I thought, but I'm not ready for it. I'd need a broadband internet connection first.