There are lots of blogs out there that are sort of “New York for New Yorkers.” I linked to one that that lately makes me laugh and laugh over there in the Blogroll on the right (since it’s no longer just my friends, I had to change the title from “Links to Friends,” but “Links to Friends and Strangers” seemed so cumbersome). He was kind enough to link back, so come on J-Ball friends, let’s head on over to this is what we do now.
Back? But so I noticed that most of my readers are not from New York. Sure, I have Bob and some other New Yorkers, but, for instance, just today I got:
West Bend, WI
And lots more. If you recognize your town up there, don’t be scared. I can’t see that you’re scratching your ass right now, just that someone in your area visited.
But I feel that the wide geographical reach of the J-Ball is an excuse to share a little more of, yes, you guessed it, You Live Like That, We Live Like This.
It begins with me telling you that I am a shareholder in an exciting and totally unprofitable corporation. I’d give you the name but you’ve never heard of it and besides, it’s my address. Yes, it is my building. I live in a co-op. A co-op is a building that is owned jointly by a group of people who live there. Being that most co-ops are in New York, we can just go ahead and say that these people are all insane in one way or another. In a condo, you own your apartment. In a co-op you own shares (225 in my case) of a corporation that exists simply to own a building. The building then gives you a lease to live in your actual apartment. So what’s so different about that, you ask.
Well, it’s this. We elect a board each year and that board decides who gets to buy an apartment. This is annoying if you are either buying or selling but fantastic if you would like to not live next to a guy who runs a prostitution ring out of his apartment, or even worse, is in a band. I listen to loud music all day. I don’t need it at night when I’m trying to watch the game.
Not that this has helped me in any way. To the left of me is a family of three who are still renters. The building has been co-op since 1984 but they have stubbornly held on. Now, this family is made up of a single mother and two teenagers of different genders and they live in a one-bedroom. My curiosity to know how they arrange themselves is eclipsed by the fact that they constantly look at me as though they would like me dead. Plus, I am convinced they do, in fact, run a prostitution ring out of their apartment. I could be wrong, though. It could be drugs.
To the right of me is a guy who is certifiable. His father bought him the apartment years and years ago so he could stow his crazyass son away and not have to deal with him. When I first moved in I could often hear him having nasty, blowout conversations on the phone with people where he would curse them out and tell them what horrible fate should befall them. Later on, the guy who lives above him told me, “Uh, Becca, he’s not on the phone.” Oh. Right.
But still, the fact that we are a co-op leads to a lot of fun joint decision-making, like the choice of a new color for the external doorframes which has taken over a year. Each year we have a meeting where we elect a new board (to paraphrase The Who, it’s usually the same as the old board) and yell at each other a lot.
If our co-op was a sitcom, the part of the weirdo who nitpicks over everything would be played by, oh, let’s call him, Nitpicky Guy. My inauguration into the ways of Nitpicky Guy was at the first annual meeting I attended where he tried to introduce a motion that hallway lightbulbs were too bright. Not to do anything about it, just to declare it. He was denied the right to make the motion. Yes, this is co-op living. Last year, he somehow made it onto the board because one member was stepping down and no one else wanted the spot. I can’t imagine how the other four are still alive, really. I might have burned down the building just to get away from this guy.
Then there is Honest Heartfelt Guy who makes it seem like every issue affects him Very Deeply. Last year he handed out a six page document he had dug up about how the AC unit on top of the building next door should have actually been built on the other side of the roof. Yeah, I can’t stand how loud it is either, but what the hey, I live in New York City. There’s noise. It’s shocking to us all, I know.
This year, he was especially concerned. We have a new cellphone tower on our roof. Yay, we get paid $30k a year to let it be there. But he felt Very Deeply that this might affect his health. He seemed on the verge of tears. And naturally, there was a handout. The board tried to reassure him that they had done research and that if he liked, we could have the cell phone company come and look at where his apartment was in relation to the transmission. What I would have said was, “Listen, freak, did you not hear me say thirty thousand dollars a year for using our empty space?” I’d sell my health for half that.
They did ask me to run for a spot on the board, but I think that was just to get Nitpicky Guy off of it. I declined. I don’t need to spend an evening a month deciding on paint colors and asking Sprint to come look at the roof. The one fun thing the board does do is interview new people who want to move in. The flip side of this is that several of your neighbors know your salary and your entire financial picture. I still remember one board member saying to me in my interview, “I always thought record company people made more money.” You and me both, sister. But now she’s my neighbor with the big giant dog. It’s fun to say hi to her in the elevator knowing she is aware that I make less than a transit worker. Luckily I’ve gotten a few raises since then. Now I just make less than a school custodian.
I know they have these homeowner’s associations in the burbs and they keep you from painting your house purple should you have no taste whatsoever. But this is different. If you burn down your house, well, you usually don’t take the entire neighborhood with you, which is what will happen if Crazyass Neighbor forgets to take his meds and does that. And, I’m sure it will be sad for the whole street as well as my building if the prostitution ring is busted up. We’re all in this together. As long as I don’t kill you first.
Title comes, of course, from Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart. For some reason I cannot fathom, it’s not available on Napster. But no problem! Here’s an exhaustive list of covers of it. Don’t bother listening to them, though. They all blow, even The Cure’s. But the site itself has long lists of covers of all sorts of songs. I know one day soon I’ll be really bored and then, look out, I’m reading them all.
And this is the song I really should have used in the last post. It has this classic, ripped from Kate Moss headlines intro: “Right, see, the thing that’s got it all fucked now is camera phones. How am I supposed to do a line in front of strangers when I know they’ve all got camera phones?” Genius!