Friday, November 30, 2007

Not So Real Estate

Apartment hunting in New York City and environs can be overwhelming. Vacancy rates in Manhattan are close to the lowest in a decade, and that is pushing up rents, even in the outer boroughs, with the cheapest (least gouging, I should say) rents being on higher floors (in walkups at least) and situated furthest from the subway.

About 32% of the housing stock is rent-controlled, so you can imagine how much competition there is for those places (including a willingness to pay brokers 12%-16% of the annual rent, depending on the neighborhood). And many of those people are already paying an agent to hunt for them (at 10% of annual rent). After paying first & last month’s rent and a security deposit, you can end up looking at $5500 to $7000 just to MOVE IN. Factor in moving costs and furnishing, and you can easily reach $10,000.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Going Down Slow

A man fainted in front of me on the crowded subway this morning. It had a swooning sense of the surreal, one of those moments where time seems to slow, as he almost floated downward, his legs appearing to gently buckle under him, still holding the stainless steel pole at the center of the car. He didn’t lose consciousness for more than a few seconds and was standing again almost faster than we could call the train’s conductor over the intercom. We tried to help: someone stood so that he could sit, someone offered a bottle of water, but he waved us off saying he had the flu and a cold. We continued to talk to him, trying to make sure he was alright—did he have medicine, could we help in any way—but ten seconds later, we arrived at 14th Street/Union Square and he was rushing off the train. Those of us in that section of the car exchanged worried glances before resuming the requisite reading, staring-into-space, or iPod characteristic of a packed train.

It was an odd experience, to say the least…hope he’s okay.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Hombre de Negocios

It seems the businessman has won: Alvaro Colom de los Caballeros is the victor in Guatemala's presidential election! Though much remains to be seen, this seems like a step in the right direction. Colom made clear that he remembers the atrocities of the civil war, acknowledges the challenges that lie before him, and has hope for a Guatemala that is moving toward a better life for all its citizens. A good day for peace in Central America.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Stage Management

Though I have little experience as a stage manager, and what experience I do have came more than five years ago, I’ll be stage managing an upcoming production of Eugene Ionesco’s The Lesson (let’s not tell the lovely people in the show of my lack of experience, eh?).

The play is being produced by a new theatre company, The Collective, formed by a group of young actors who have been studying together at the William Esper Studio. The three performers in the show are sharp, perceptive actors and the director seems to be working seamlessly with them. The play is iconic Theatre of the Absurd, a comedy with a dark streak a mile wide.

I’d rather be on the other side of the proscenium, but this will do for now.