New York City’s soul is dying, killed off by the rich. When I signed the lease four years ago, the real estate broker called my 450 sq. ft., Upper East Side, Manhattan rental a junior one bedroom. That was funny. Guess what was in the living room? My kitchen and bedroom. Where I come from, we call that a “studio.” In any event, I really loved it. Rent stabilized, the monthly price tag was $1,450 instead of the market rate $2,500+. Further, according the the New York Times, Manhattan’s average rent is $3,418, an all-time high.
My Junior 1-Bedroom, Upper East Side, Manhattan apartment circa 2010.
Removed from HBO’s lineup long ago, Sex and the City character Carrie Bradshaw lived on 72nd Street, a five-minute walk from my place. Dividing fact from fiction, the two UES apartments were worlds apart.
Carrie Bradshaw’s Upper East Side apartment floor plan from Sex and the City. Image by Inaki Aliste Lizarralde.
Mayor Bloomberg shut off our subway system, the MTA, from noon on Saturday. There’s talk of preemptively killing electricity in parts of the city. Across the water, New Jersey’s Governor Christie warned people … and this is a direct quote … “Get the hell off the beach.” Oh, yes he did, adding, “You’re done. Do not waste any more time working on your tan.”
Hopefully all the hype about the storm is just hype, but no one can be sure. The New York Times has a good realtime Hurricane Irene tracker. Given the storm is losing steam at the moment, I’m more worried about boredom than safety. I crave people more than power. If the Empire State incurs minimal damage but the city loses electricity, I’ll need a hurricane party. Flashlights, candles, booze, board games, interesting people, etc. To keep up with me during Irene, Twitter is the best place for to-the-moment updates. Follow me: http://twitter.com/funkybrownchick
I haven’t seen Andrea since she returned from vacation. How was Columbia? I excitedly text her, accidentally misspelling the country as if she had sunbathed uptown on an Ivy league campus instead of South America. We should catch up over coffee, I suggest.
Strolling, Andrea and I catch up about her travels, each of our love lives, family and other stuff. I tell her I’m grateful for the little things. Sunshine-filled days. Auburn, golden and rust-colored leaves. Fresh air. Living in close proximity to Central Park. Catching up with her, my friend. I also fill her in about a bunch of personal stuff and current challenges. Suffice it to say, life warms my heart as often as it breaks it.
As you may have heard, weather service issued tornado warnings for New York. When the news broke, I was like: “Um, whatever. These NY city slickers are just afraid of wind. I can handle this. I’m from Illinois. Bring out the kites, bitches!”
Then, at last night’s SnapGoods Block Party, friends showed me pictures of trees and debris smashed through cars; a guy said he was afraid to return home because his neighbor alerted winds flattened a house on their street; and, later, I watched Nick McGlynn’s “This Is Literally a Tornado. Jesus Christ” video. Scary shit. Thus far, everyone I know is okay. Most of the damage was in Queens and Brooklyn; Manhattan was pretty much unscathed. I native Illinoisan, I explained: “It’s the skyscrapers. They block winds, and gusts can’t get enough speed to do damage here.” It’s kind of like how tornadoes rip through rural Illinois, not downtown Chicago. I figured this was a logical explanation, but I checked in with the The Tornado Project to be sure. They concur. “The probability of a violent tornado in the downtown area of any large city is about once in a thousand years.”
If you’re interested in learning more about tornadoes, here’s How Tornadoes Work as well as a video of one of the Midwest’s worst (an 8-mile high funnel in Wichita/Andover, Kansas). Here’s a more “newsy” explanation.
I’m religiously promiscuous. I like to nibble on the best of what each religion contributes to the world. Last Sunday, I went to the Park51‘s interfaith event because I see no reason why Muslims — simply on account of their religious beliefs — should be singled out for unfair treatment, bias or hatred. Some of you may be wondering: Who is this jihadist sex writer?!?! True, I’m a sex writer. No, I don’t support terrorism.
Raised Christian, I currently identify as a “spiritual” person and I attend services at Marble Collegiate Church. It’s the kind of place where, on the third anniversary of the Iraq War’s commencement, we hung peace ribbons along the iron gate surrounding our building. “Gold ribbons, displaying names, ranks, and ages of the thousands of American service people who have lost their lives, represent prayers for the surviving families and friends,” says Marble’s website. “Each Sunday morning during worship, the names of service people who have died in the war in Iraq are read aloud [...] Marble Church congregants and friends continue to pray daily for the wounded and the day that war is no longer an option.”
Finding Park51 proved difficult. Below 14th Street, Manhattan streets resemble a spaghetti blob. Park Row. Park Place. Place Street? I got lost. If I were to give someone travel directions to find Park51 — as I did with a friend who was meeting me there — I’d say, “It’s actually further up, much closer to City Hall.” In any case, if you want to know what happened and see pictures of the inside, voila!
Park51 staff shared food and broke pita with attendees.
We gathered in small circles to discuss our views on Islam. My group included a male rabbi, a Lutheran woman, an Irish-American gentleman in his 60s who was pretty quirky, a 32-year-old atheist woman, a 20-something Christian woman, a Jewish dude who facilitated much of the discussion and me:
A Lutheran woman made cranes (makeshift peace doves) for everyone.
A gentleman with a lovely voice led the Call to Prayer, and those who wished to pray excused themselves to do so. Then, we watched the film Talking Through Walls.
Sometimes, I really love this city. I wanted to write about my Park51 visit sooner, but so much random stuff happens between FUNKY BROWN CHICKÂ® posts. (Psst! In other fun unexpectedness, I recently hailed the Cash Cab.) If you’d like up-to-the-minute funky brown updates, follow me on Twitter. And, for current info about sex & relationships news and events, friend me on Facebook.
I try to live each year in Manhattan as if it’s my last one here. Because, one day, it will be. On my Facebook, I shared The Onion article 8.4 Million New Yorkers Suddenly Realize New York City A Horrible Place To Live, and I’ve also seen it spreading online faster than herpes. It’s a satirical piece, but I think it struck a chord with many of the other 117,000+ people who shared the link on Facebook. From the piece: “I always had this perverted sense of pride because I was managing to scrape by here,” said Brooklyn resident Andrew McQuade, who, after watching two subway rats gnawing on a third bloody rat carcass, finally determined that New York City was a giant sprawling cancer. “Well, fuck that. I don’t need to pay $2,000 a month to share a doghouse-sized apartment with some random Craigslist dipshit to prove my worth. I want to live like a goddamn human being.”
I adore this city. I do. Seriously, there are millions of reasons to love New York. At the same time, I miss some of the “quality of life” things this city doesn’t offer very well: quick access to nature, healthy outdoor air quality, large living spaces, opportunities to see the people I care about on a more regular basis, the ability to save tremendous amounts of cash instead of flushing it down the drain for rent, etc., etc. Funny enough, people say my ambivalence about living here — instead of a newbie’s affection for it — makes me a real New Yorker. It’s kind of like how all those French people who complain about Paris are still Parisians.
Yesterday, I went to Gap for my personal stylist appointment. Au naturel, baby. No makeup. Hair not curled. Totally tomboy’ed out. That’s how I prefer to shop; I don’t see the point of getting dolled up in stuff you’re gonna rip off. So, watch the video below to come inside the dressing room and look at my body. Oh, the things we say to ourselves when we’re in front of a three-way mirror.
Head’s up, it’s a LOOOOONG video. Chopped it up as quickly as I could, but I didn’t have time to snip even more and still have it look coherent. I wanted to do two extra shots — one for scents and another for underwear because I like experimenting with both but I ran out of time. Enjoy the show!
By the way, I was on my period and totally bloated, but I still lifted my shirt to show you how the jeans fit because I’m learning to love my body regardless of the time of month. Also, sliding further past the waist …. men LOVE my curves more than I do, but that’s changing — yesterday’s side / bandonkadonk shot as well as today’s video highlight my hips & badonkadonk because we’re becoming much better friends.
Disclosure: Complimentary clothes and tips from expert stylists came courtesy of Gap.
The absolutely lovely folks at Gap kindly provided an overstuffed bag of goodies and set me up with a stylist appointment in preparation for my Blogher 2010 session, Bringing Sex Out of the Closet. Shout out to Nick, Andrea and Jessica at the 34th and Broadway location in Midtown. We all cheerily gathered in the dressing room’s three-way mirror, and they threw a bunch of clothes at me. It was all very Pretty Woman … except, you know, without me in knee-high, black hooker boots yelling, “Well, I didn’t ask if it would fit. I asked how much it was. Look, I got money to spend in here!!”
Here’s a photo of me snapping pictures in Gap’s super-tight, long and lean jeans. If you’ve met me in person or seen my Flickr pics, you know I’m a dress & skirts chick. I almost NEVER wear jeans. But, I’ll be damned if my favorite Gap trio — Nick, Andrea and Jessica — didn’t pick out just the right pair that felt sexy, comfortable AND flattered my badonkadonk. “These don’t make me look fat, do they?” I asked. “You’ve got hips,” Nick told me with a friendly smile. “You’re a woman. They’re supposed to be there.” I liked the Gap trio because they were super personable and, more importantly, honest. I shot video of all the shenanigans. If I have time to clip it together before BlogHer kicks up tomorrow, I’ll post it.