Friday, February 17, 2012

Why there are no ugly babies

"OOOOOOO-h, he's adorrrrrrr-able!"

You've probably heard that there are no ugly babies.

Here's why: babies are showroom fresh and therefore don't exhibit any of the unsightly signs of age; no wrinkles, no ear hair, no gray hair, no liver spots, no receding hairlines.

Age is the ultimate cosmetic buzzkill, and is irreversible to boot. Babies haven't fallen prey to that buzzkill. This is why we are surprised when we see an ugly baby (and amazed when we see a decent looking older person).

As we age, we start accumulating the hallmarks of decay. So in a way, all of our efforts to counteract them are a way of remaining baby-like.

And once we realize there is nothing we can do to hold off this decay, we have a baby ourselves, which is as close as we can come to starting over.

There are no ugly tweets on my feed:!/greatMikePayne

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Renter's Remorse II: The Move

I finally found an apartment. Thanks for asking.

An apartment I had viewed and declined in December was posted again on Craigslist. In light of the toll my apartment hunt was taking on my wellbeing, the reservations I had when I first viewed said apartment suddenly seemed nano-sized. The apartment was also listed by an individual owner, not a property company, allowing me to escape the cabal of vile secretaries and boil-covered middlemen you normally encounter at property “management” firms.

The downside to this new apartment; it was in Midtown Manhattan, which is like Jersey Shore for 90-year-olds. Midtown is a place where the residents are prehistoric, short of breath, and dressed like they’re gonna party like it’s 1929. Where plastic surgery has found a way to create cheeks that are saggy and dog-like, yet wrinkle-free. Where the women wear enough granny perfume to destroy three ozone layers. Where Casual Friday means you don’t wear mink underwear.

Oh well, I was happy to have the apartment hunt behind me. And although some fellow comedians (Jhoel Walkowski, Mick Diflo, Kip Potharas, and Dan Goodman) offered to help me move, I decided to book a professional mover off Craigslist.

I didn’t have much to transport; a TV, an office chair, 6 boxes and 3 suitcases…no big deal. As is always the case the night before a move, I was unable to sleep a wink.

The next morning the movers show up (almost on time!). I go downstairs to greet them. It is warm and sunny; a perfect day for a move. Out of nowhere the super of the building appears…

“No no no…this isn’t happening today!”

He tells me that in order to move out, I have to get permission from the property manager. The mover has to fax their info. to the building’s management company, it takes at least 3 days to get approval, and you have to pay a $500 security deposit in case something happens to the building.

I explain that I’m not even moving real furniture. We’re talking about a TV, an office chair, 6 boxes and 3 suitcases…no mattresses, no china cabinets, no Arks of the Covenant. Simple move; in and out in 10 minutes.

He again tells me it’s not going to happen and gives me the building company’s number. Of course they don’t answer.

Now I’m standing with the movers as they look on in disbelief. The clock is running.

I try pleading with the super. He shakes his head like a cartoon sheriff: “This ain’t happening today.”

I couldn’t believe it. In three years I had never had an issue with this super. I also never asked him for anything. I'm the guy who when he talks to supers takes this tone: “Can you just make it so the raw sewage only comes out of the cold side of the faucet?”

Now I can’t move out, I have taken a day off work for nothing, I’m looking at a three-day waiting period to move out (who knew it was easier to buy a handgun than to transport a coffeemaker?), and I have to pay the movers who moved nothing a $60 traveling fee.

Serenity now!

That afternoon I get my landlady on the phone. She freaks out about the obstruction and says that she is going to move me herself. My landlady is probably less than 100 lbs. I ask if she thinks she can physically do it. She insists she can. I tell her the super is going to catch us again and cause problems. She says we’ll do it early before he starts work.

Morning comes. My landlady is running late. The super catches her entering the building and a standoff ensues. Had it been the Old West, they might have drawn pistols…

My super examines my sparse belongings and agrees to let me move out, but insists on going by the moving-out gospel. He puts down cardboard in the hall (so that the suitcase wheels wouldn’t damage the floors?). He makes us go through the basement and up some tricky stone steps. He makes my landlady write him a $500 security check in case of damage (the only way we could have done damage to the stone steps was if I had been moving a jackhammer with no off switch).

My landlady is in such a rage she develops superhuman strength and insists on moving most of the stuff herself! And she did. With ease. And her last name isn’t even Ver Magnússon!

We get the stuff onto the sidewalk. My landlady gets her check back. At least something has gone right.

Now we have to find two cabs to take us to the new building. We wait out in the bleak, blustery morning air. Cabs are seeing us and quickly zipping past. They usually don’t care for moving furniture.

I finally get one minivan cab to stop. We load half my stuff and proceed to the new building. My new building has a long list of rules about moving that now have me quivering with fear. What if I get to the new place and they have some rule about no moving via cab?

I nervously call my new super to let him know I’m on my way and that I'm doing a cab-move. His response: “I’m looking forward to meeting you.”

WOW...didn't see that coming.

I get to the new building and the new super graciously helps me move my stuff from the curb to the freight elevator. Talk about a tale of two supers!

It takes another 30 minutes for my poor landlady to get a cab. This incredible woman used her day off to move my stuff, and had to idle in the freezing cold while being passed by cabs, all because of the absurd obstructions of a city that prides itself on getting things done quickly.

My new super was ultra-helpful getting my junk into my new apartment, and did it all with a smile. And my beleaguered, put-upon landlady uttered not a single complaint. What a stroke of luck that I had them involved.

So anyway, I’m happy to be moved. No so thrilled about where I moved to. Only fossils and folks with the soul of a wet cigar move to Midtown. I’m a little bit fossil, a little bit wet cigar, so I guess I belong.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Renter's Remorse

For weeks I have been in a tizzy trying to find an apartment. Rent in Manhattan is spiking because sales are slow. No buyers means more renters and fewer vacancies and higher broker fees. Some brokers are now trying to charge 15% of the annual rent as a fee!

Naturally, I have done all I can to avoid brokers. I have stood on line at open houses (only to find that the apartment was 12' x 14'. Not a typo.). I have been stood up by owners who were supposed to show me their apartment (leaving me standing helpless in the piercing cold). I have looked at probably 20 apartments. I have filled out applications and unsuccessfully battled to have them reviewed in a timely manner. I have fielded lots of calls from brokers ("Yeah, you called about an apartment." Nope, never made one call). I have sent at least 150 emails. You get the picture.

A slow motion nervous breakdown was setting in. I was about to drop out of life and move back in with my parents. Suddenly I got a call from a broker...

Broker: I have an alcove studio in your neighborhood that just opened up.

Me: What floor is it on?

Broker: Second floor.

Me: Does it laundry?

Broker: Yes.

Me: How big?

Broker: 600 square feet. A real alcove studio. You're going to love it. I can show it tomorrow during the day. Can't wait until evening. It will go fast.

Everyone always says apartments are going to go fast. However, during this apartment search, I have found that to be true. A few apartments I was scheduled to see after work were gone by the time I was supposed to see them.

I agreed to view this promising alcove studio on my lunch break...

I arrived at the agreed upon spot and stood in the vengeful winter wind. When the broker's lackey appeared, he said we had to take a walk to get the key. So much for the "convenience" of hiring an apartment finder.

We walk a few streets, shivering every step of the way. I stress that I'm on my lunch break and don't have much time. This bounces right off Brokerbot. He has his canned questions, and they're going to be sputtered no matter what:

How many apartments have you seen?

When can you move in?

I told him I could move in Feb. 1st. He said immediate move-in was required.

I wait outside while Brokerbot enters a building to get the key. He comes back out and starts confusedly reciting the address over and over. The address that he can't seem to decipher indicates that the address is actually a few streets north of what the broker originally told me (those few streets make a difference). We start hiking north...

We reach the building. It looks like an ogre's mouth. An ogre unconcerned about dental hygiene.

We trudge up the dilapidated, Frankenstein Castle steps to the third floor (not the second like I was told).

We reach the apartment. It is a construction site. Literally. No walls, no doors, nothing. In fact there is a work crew inside gutting and rebuilding the dump from scratch!!!

For the sake of who knows what I asked about laundry. There is no laundry. Another falsehood. It also isn't anywhere near 600 square feet.

Me: I can't do an immediate move-in to an unfinished apartment.

Brokerbot: I've seen them renovate apartments in a day.

After being lied to about every single detail of the apartment, I'm supposed to take Brokerbot's word for it that the apartment will be renovated quickly and presented in acceptable working order. And in the meantime I'm going to be paying rent on this junkyard until the renovation is complete. AND paying a broker's fee for my troubles.

I start storming down the stairs. Brokerbot follows me.

Brokerbot: This is a good price. It will go fast!

I reach the sidewalk. Brokerbot is relentless.

Brokerbot: It will go fast (In fairness, Brokerbot may have just been a wind-up doll programmed to recite three phrases).

Me: I know I didn't speak to you on the phone, but the apartment isn't where I was told it would be. I was told it was on the second floor. It's on the third. I was told there was laundry. There's no laundry. And it's not even finished! You didn't show me an apartment. You showed me a construction site!

Brokerbot: It will go fast.

Maybe it will go fast, but not as fast as a person's faith in humanity when talking to apartment brokers.

To be continued...