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Good-Bye to All That

  • by Colin Elzie
  • Jan 20, 2010
  • Odds and Ends

After five and a half years in beautiful Berkeley, California, I’ve left that land of plenty to go to a place where you don’t smell homeless people’s urine everywhere you go, even if it’s only for the reason that the urine has frozen to the sidewalk next to its source. That’s right, bitches, I’ve gone to New York City to follow my dreams of helping other people follow their parents’ dreams. And those parental dreams necessitate the taking of the Law School Admissions Test. So look out East Coast, because the best LSAT instructor straight outta central-West Berkeley is coming to rock your world harder than a [joke omitted because it is far, far, far too soon].

The last two years of my life have been whittled away in the Bay Area teaching the LSAT, like some piece of wood being whittled away by the leathery hands of an old sun-baked Portuguese fisherman as he sits on a wind-swept dock in the late autumn, reflecting on the effects of modernization on his dying profession. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve loved every minute of it. But when my bosses asked me how I would like to do what I’ve been doing, only in a sub-arctic climate where I can pay $2700 a month to share a Starbucks bathroom-sized room with some bedbugs next to a housing project, I naturally jumped at the idea. But in all seriousness, how often do you get the opportunity to move to the Big Dirty Apple? I’ll tell you how often. Two times. And I certainly wasn’t going to pass up number one.

So I’m there! Or, here, I guess I should say! Let me first start by saying this: Jesus, Mary, and Joseph it’s cold. Everyone is always like “OMG New York is, like, the best city in the WORLD! LOL!!!” But sadly, when it comes to the weather, this is patently untrue. In California, I’d be wearing sandals right now instead of wool socks (worst case scenario, I’d be wearing wool socks with sandals, because I’m gangster like that). But no comfy Birkenstocks out here. I spent the other day walking 18 miles in Brooklyn checking out neighborhoods and nearly died of hypothermia. Luckily the cold made me lose the feeling in my feet, which really helped me ignore the bleeding blisters. Also, I saw a group of twelve people screaming at each other, and one even brandished a genuine firearm! What character! I didn’t hear any gunshots, so all parties to the dispute must have come up with a satisfactory resolution. Or maybe it just turned into a shankfest. Either way, Colin won at the running-away game.

Anyway, I soon commenced the arduous process of looking for an apartment. I thought Berkeley was expensive, but I’ve never seen such overpriced shoeboxes as I’ve run across here. It’s hella not tight. For a short time I even thought about avoiding the problem altogether by living in New Jersey, but quickly came to my senses. So I looked in Manhattan, but it was too cramped, expensive, and reminded me too much of an LSAT logic game. (5 roommates are sharing a 300 square foot studio for $8900 per month. They will sleep in two triple-decker bunk beds, each facing north. Paul will pay his share of the rent if he finds an “acting” job. Josh pays rent only if Brandon nags him enough, and is the last to do so. Charles will commit suicide if and only if the heater breaks, immediately before or after Harry).

Harlem is more affordable and offers more space, but I’d really prefer not to be the personification of gentrification (if Avatar has taught us nothing else, white guilt is a bitch). With options running thin, I turned my gaze to the outer boroughs. The Blueprint LSAT classes are taught in Midtown, but the subway makes things pretty convenient, so living super close to work isn’t a major priority.

The Bronx was out because it’s a bit too stabby and shooty for my taste, and I’d rather live in a sewer than on Staten Island (I’ve never been there, but I hear hating on Staten Island is what all the cool kids do, and I do want to be a cool kid ever so much.) Queens, surprisingly, was actually one of my favorite boroughs. Astoria was much more down-to-earth (read: poor yet safe) than anywhere else I found, but has no nightlife, and is kind of far away. Long Island City is just too damn industrial, and if I wanted to live in a soulless luxury high-rise I’d do it in New Jersey for less money. According to white New Yorkers in their twenties Astoria and LIC are the only two places in all of Queens, so the search in that borough came to an unceremonious end.

I was loath to live in Brooklyn, mainly just because every asshole from the west coast moves to Brooklyn and thinks this somehow makes them “edgier” or “cooler” or “more of a goddamn hipster.” Nothing exemplifies this more than “The Burg.” While Williamsburg is very convenient, I don’t think I own enough studded belts, skinny jeans, or ironic t-shirts to qualify for entry. Also, I’m not on board with the whole concept of “industrial chic,” but maybe I’m just not cool enough to live in a factory (and next to a nuclear waste disposal site). Most importantly, I just can’t bring myself to live near people who own fixed gear bikes. The fixed gear bike is the stupidest invention in the history of transportation (yes, that is taking into account the existence of the H2). When I take over the world, I’m going to use fixed-gear bike ownership as the cutoff for who lives and who gets slowly tortured to death.

And then there’s Park Slope.

It’s like someone distilled and extracted everything I hate about the Berkeley bourgeoisie, pumped it full of steroids and old curdled organic goat’s milk, and left it in a warm, damp place to grow like the acrid filth that it is. I have never seen so many thousand-dollar strollers in my life. If you’ve ever been to Fourth Street in Berkeley, imagine that, but on a much grander scale. Or imagine The Grove in LA, but with even more pretension. I think it’s probably illegal to bottle-feed your baby on “The Slope.” The average coffee shop has more exposed breasts than a New Orleans street on Mardi Gras. Everyone loves the goddamn co-op, yet they have no problem having a plethora of Starbucks and a Barnes and Noble. Honestly, I have never seen a more perfect embodiment of the term “limousine liberal.” You can’t walk ten feet down the street without tripping over a child dressed in clothes that cost more than your entire wardrobe. And everyone has an effing dog. They’re all purebreds, too, but their owners get all defensive about it, always having some really legitimate reason that they didn’t go to the pound to rescue a condemned puppy. “Oh, the breeder is a friend of mine.” (I swear this is a conversation that I overheard.) Bullshit, buddy, you’re yuppie scum through and through. Man up and own it. And the babies. The screaming, screaming army of babies. (Also, apparently the babies and the dogs don’t really get along). It’s pretty impressive when you can get me to dislike liberals more than I dislike Republicans, but congratulations Park Slope, you’ve done just that.

And then I found a rent-stabilized apartment. In the heart of Park Slope.

The thing about Park Slope is that it’s got a great sense of community. All the neighbors watch out for each other. And it’s great to see people caring about the planet – everyone shops at this great co-op where they only sell organic foods. There’s even a Barnes and Noble with a Starbucks inside, so you can grab a cup of coffee while browsing the books at the same time! And everyone is so enlightened, they even breast-feed openly! So refreshing. It’s also really, really pretty, with brownstones everywhere. Also, Prospect Park is so close, which for my money is better than Central Park. And what’s better than waking up to the sound of children’s laughter every morning?

I just hope signing the lease didn’t somehow remotely impregnate my girlfriend. Although I’m sure there’s a Babybjörn in the vicinity. Let me just check the Babybjörn Finder app on my new iPhone…

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