Tag Archives: Morningside Heights

I Could Blog You Under the Table

If I were someone who consumed alcohol, consumed it frequently, maybe too frequently, maybe hungover at this very moment– I would be extremely pleased with the diverse New York City bar scene. However, everyone knows that all bloggers absolutely do not drink because we are too busy with our wildly successful internet writing careers. Instead, I write the following post hypothetically, but for ease of writing, it might read as if I have actually experienced the joys of alcohol, which of course I haven’t, because I’m much too busy posting in this blog every three weeks to indulge in libations of any kind.

There’s a place for anyone, even a super important and busy blogger, in the New York drinking scene. Desperate office worker? Midtown. Desperate high-powered office worker? Financial District. Tourist? Times Square, or maybe swigging a 40 under the Statue of Liberty while crying into your upside down subway map. Enjoy Pabst Blue Ribbon? Time to bust out your Chinatown Ray-Ban knockoffs and catch the L to Williamsburg. Do you wear a blazer with dark-wash jeans and pointy leather shoes? That’s unfortunate, but I hope you find your way to the Village. Study better for med school exams when you’re buzzed? Morningside Heights works. And also, seriously, don’t ever be my doctor. That’s f*cked up.

As a poor, procrastination-loving grad student who hypothetically drinks on occasion, I’m happy to spend time commuting to a bar with great specials, if only to escape the wanker bars that are closest to my fakepartment. One of these places in particular, the bar at Amsterdam Restaurant and Tapas Lounge, has a decently-priced happy hour. The downside to this place is that happens to be run by militant yuppies who hate everyone and hate themselves. Even though I hypothetically frequent this place every Thursday night with a large group of people, Amsterdam conveniently forgets our consistent patronage and always finds some excuse to yell at us. Whether it’s because we were ordering from the bar instead of from the waitresses, or because we weren’t aware we couldn’t eat delicious Levain cookies near the bar because they were “outside food,” or that other time when someone hypothetically and violently threw a couch cube at the bartender when he informed her happy hour was over– they always find an excuse to chastise us. Whatever, I don’t hold grudges. I’ll be there next Thursday, if they hypothetically let me back in after I hypothetically pay $400 in damages that never happened.

Self-explanatory, I think.

Self-explanatory, I think.

I do keep my eye out for cheap bar deals in the city. I (may or may not) have been to other places with a cheapskate mentality, such as the appropriately-named Cheap Shots, a dive bar on 1st Ave between 9th Street and St. Marks Place. This place is a shit hole and proud of it. It is the size of a walk in closet, and there might have been poop on the ground and lining the walls. Even so, true to their name, they do have cheap shots. My problem with this place wasn’t so much the poop as the tiny medicine cups that were posing as legitimate shot containers. It was continually disappointing to have a medicine cup as a drinking vessel but the contents not taste like Children’s Grape Dimetapp, which is a delicious, delicious cold-fighting medicine that should be the real base liquid for purple drank. But I’ll continue to come to this place, if only so I can begin stories with, “I was in a bar with poop on the walls and my Red Headed Slut came in a medicine cup…”

One bar in particular that has caught my eye while simultaneously perplexing me in every way possible is 123 Burger Shot Beer, a joint in Hell’s Kitchen. I’ve never actually been (TAKERS?!?!) but according to their website, it’s dollar burgers, two dollar shots, and three dollar beers– no gimmicks. Seems like a hell of a gimmick to me, AND IT’S WORKING. But, as Jemaine Clement of Flight of the Conchords so intelligently once sang, “What are ya’ ovaheads?” Seriously, how does this place make money? It is utterly baffling. How is it even possible? How is this not a business model for every bar in the history of the United States of America? I wonder if the manager of 123 Burger Shot Beer moonlights as President of Citigroup, or perhaps the head of the Federal Reserve. It’s too good to be true, and I’ll believe it when I drink it, but only after I drink a lot of it, and then immediately regret it, and then take an expensive cab all the way back to Morningside Heights, which I will also immediately regret. Hypothetically speaking. Because I will never do this, ever.

Brb, going out for a blog.

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Step 2: Remain positive. Cynical, but positive.

It’s been awhile, but in the last few weeks, I gave up on the housing search and settled for what I affectionately (?) call my “fakepartment.” If I were to describe it on Craigslist, my new crib would sound something like, “This brand new, luxurious, junior studio with penthouse views is located on a historic street in a community-oriented, secure building.” Translating that into reality speak, it would be:

1. Brand New = Not actually brand new, though still retaining that sterile, unwelcome feeling of a new building.
2. Luxurious = Way overpriced, but also not a complete shithole.
3. Junior studio = Bedroom, small bathroom, no kitchen, claustrophobia abound.
4. Penthouse views = You are on the 18th floor. Your view is of the Triborough Bridge and Robert Moses’ spartan public housing monstrosities, with both being a constant reminder of how he displaced poor minorities on a massive scale due to his control-freak, power-hungry mentality. You are completely f*cked if the elevator breaks.
5. Historic street = Surrounded by beautiful historic buildings! Yours isn’t one of them.
6. Community-oriented = You share a kitchen. On a different floor. Feel free to make friends with the yuppie grad student you are currently butter-knife fighting with over access to the back left corner of the stove.
7. Secure building = There’s a uniformed man who occasionally checks for vagrants that wander into the lobby during his breaks from what he’s actually paid to do, which is reading dirty magazines under the front desk.

It’s easy for me to be critical of the place, especially when I’m so set on making myself a home in this big city. It’s hard to make a home out of one and a half kitchenless rooms that force you to hard boil eggs in your hot water heater. It’s hard to feel at home when No Diggity by Blackstreet comes rumbling through the walls from another fakepartment, waking you at eight in the morning. Oh, and don’t forget the whole initial loneliness of it all, in addition to your denial of being lonely. That’s not an easy feeling to deal with. It is so, so easy to pick this place, this transition, this entire experience apart. But, it’s not impossible to love it, either.

Even I, Bitter McSourpuss (it’s a family name) recognize some great things about living in my fakepartment, even beyond my respectable cable plan. Side note: Jon and Kate Plus 8 is the Crystal Meth of reality television. Really, my favorite part of my fakepartment is that it’s located in the city. Low standards, I know. But I can’t describe how immensely relieving it is to have a busy, tiring, but fulfilling day in New York and know that you’re only a subway ride away from your bed instead of subway, a train, and a significant drive away from home. The diversity of the people and streets and neighborhoods in my immediate area is astounding. There’s a lot to see. A lot to bitch about, I’m sure, but a lot to see and love, too.

Blackstreet approves this post. PLAY ON, PLAYETTE!

Blackstreet approves this post. PLAY ON, PLAYETTE!

It’s important to remain positive about living arrangements, even if it is in a van down by the river, a hovel in Alphabet City, or a fakepartment in Morningside Heights. Maybe there are bright sides to the crap sides. Maybe my Blackstreet-loving neighbor Ricco is just trying to tell me that he “likes the way I work it” hey yo hey yo hey yo hey yo. Okay fine, it’s important to remain positive, but not idiotic. I’m giving Ricco a piece of my mind first thing tomorrow. No diggity. No doubt.

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Rule Number One: NEVER Talk about Fight Clu– Making Eye Contact on The Subway

The NYC subway system is a lawless land with a tacit code of ethics that I have yet to fully comprehend. What I’ve gathered so far is that it’s definitely not okay to make eye contact with people who clearly want to be noticed, like panhandlers, musicians, hot young women with old rich dudes, and ennui-ridden hipsters with pomade-fabricated hygiene problems. As for the other nondescript people who don’t really want to be looked at, it’s still not okay to look them, though they are probably too busy avoiding your gaze to notice.

This is a real problem for me. You see, I majored in Anthropology. (Yes, I will continue to wear this on my sleeve when it has little to no relevance.) Even though my studies in undergrad did not in any way condone staring at strangers and had very little to do with actual observation, I will continue to pretend that it is a legitimate excuse for my behavior. I’m definitely one of those people who views the subway bench as a visual buffet of people waiting to be judged.

Excuse me, sir playing the Djembe, you’re really talented and all, but you’re not fooling anyone. I know that it takes mad bank to buy a Djembe. Go away. I need my dollar for a shitty Au Bon Pain breakfast croissant.

Oh hello there, fat little Asian baby! Your mom is giving me the evil eye for making silly faces at you, but really I’m just imitating her own expressions. In fourteen years or so, read Joy Luck Club; trust me.

Young woman sitting across from me, I really, really like your skirt! And you’re doing the NY Times Crossword! Maybe we can be frien– oh, oh God, she saw me looking. Look down, just look down… oh hey, nice shoes!! Oh God, she saw me looking at her shoes. Oh God. My stomach hurts.

I’ve also noticed somewhat of a hierarchy of reading material on the subway. I’m not sure how the rankings fall, but I’m pretty sure the New York Times reigns supreme while Janet Evanovich, Danielle Steel, and James Patterson work the fields of its literary fiefdom. The New Yorker, thick and smart-looking books, and incoming messages on your Blackberry are up there, too. Highlights magazine and Japanese manga, not so much– I don’t care if you’re nine, you are going to read Fahrenheit 451 and you-are-going-to-like-it, mister.

This would be the best rewrite to Kafkas Metamorphosis EVER!!

This would be the best rewrite to Kafka's Metamorphosis EVER!!

Sometimes I find myself without reading material on the subway, which is unfortunate since it keeps my eyes glued to the pages instead of strangers’ phenotypic vulnerabilities. And since it’s taboo to furtively glance at everyone around me, I usually find myself reading the advertisements plastered around the subway car. Most are either pointless or in Spanish, but I did come across this gem of an ad. I don’t even know what it is selling, but whatever it is, I want to buy it. I bet Kanye doesn’t get judged for judging people on the Subway. And if they do, it’s completely within his right to blame them for Hurricane Katrina. Psh, whateva.

If you have any book recommendations to pass the time during my long commute to Morningside Heights, please do let me know. But make sure it’s something that will make me look totally cool and interesting, like Wuthering Heights or The Tempest. Except make sure that it’s not boring… like Wuthering Heights or The Tempest.

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Filed under Observations

Step 1: Finding the Right Shithole

In order to successfully find an apartment in New York City, it is virtually a prerequisite for one to become physically, mentally, and emotionally addicted to Craigslist. I don’t know who this enigmatic “Craig” is or why he decided to take time off from pleasuring himself to craft this amazing database of classified ads. What I do know is that if checking Craigslist were equivalent to drinking a half a shot of Malibu, I would be wasted by 10:30 am every single day.

On Monday, I had my first ever New York City apartment viewings. Both of the ads fit my relatively reasonable requirements for an apartment:

a) Female roommates in their early to mid-20s.
b) Apartment was located in either the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights, or West Harlem below 135th St and priced below $1200 a month.
c) Apartment was not described as “cozy,” “charming,” (read: “glorified closet”) or “kosher.” Don’t get me wrong, I love the Jews, but at the risk of unintentionally making a sexual innuendo, I like my meat and cheese together whenever possible, thank-you-very-much.
d) The ad had good syntax, grammar, and punctuation. I have visceral reactions to “IDK MY BFF JILL” types. Also, on some level I irrationally believe that if one possesses typing aptitude, one has a smaller chance of being serial killer or rapist. “Can I kill u in ur sleep?” “No pls kthxbai.”

The first apartment building, on W 110th and Broadway, was gorgeous. No doorman, but the marble-floored lobby had a vaulted ceiling, which looked fantastic. I took this adorably quirky elevator up to the fourth floor, and an overenthusiastic (perhaps rabid) Columbia med student let me in. I walked in and–

The apartment. Was. A Shithole.

I don’t think I would ever want the young woman who showed me this place to ever be my doctor. If her apartment is any indication of her work hygiene and bedside manner, she would probably lick her hands clean before entering the operating room, and then later after I regained consciousness, slap me across the face with an eight month old copy of the New York Times she’s been saving for a rainy day. The place was straight up disgusting. The kitchen appliances seemed to be gravitating toward a central, vortex-like sunken point in the floor, and there were cracks in the wall. I attempted some robotic med school humor by calling the cracks “flesh wounds.” She was not amused.

I quickly left the decrepit apartment and set out for the next apartment, two blocks downtown on W108th and Broadway. The two blocks were like night and day. W110th was a quiet, beautiful tree-lined street with picaresque stone buildings. W108th was a busy, dumpster-lined street with stone buildings constantly under renovation. Upon entering the building, I was immediately reminded of my visit to the depressing Tenement Museum on the Lower East Side, except it was far less clean than the museum. And people still lived in it.

The authors of the ad, despite having grammatical prowess, failed to mention that the apartment was a fifth floor walk-up. I finally made it to the apartment, thankfully without needing to enlist the aid of a Sherpa. The girl who answered my knock let me in and without any small talk immediately began the tour of what was an unexpectedly amazing hidden gem of a place. Some highlights: high ceilings, an absurd amount of natural light, newly renovated, new appliances, clean, wood floors, well-decorated, spacious bedroom, and seemingly sane potential roommates.

My future studio apartment in Morningside Heights.

My future studio apartment in Morningside Heights.

After sitting down with the two current roommates, I found out they were also interviewing a number of other “applicants” for the apartment, and my meeting with them was strangely intimidating and uncomfortable for that very reason. The whole interview process kind of freaked me out. Lesson learned– apartment hunting is a cutthroat business. I need to learn to better sell myself, but not literally (since it’s illegal and degrading), just metaphorically.

Unsurprisingly, the two girls did not choose me to live in their covertly awesome apartment on W 108th. I think I lacked the latent sorority girl quality that they possessed. Also, it probably didn’t help that I mocked the Zac Efron poster in their apartment, only to find out that they didn’t put it up to be ironic. Awk-ward.

I should have just responded to this Craigslist ad. What a perfect arrangement.

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