Friday, December 02, 2011

My apt building, which I admit is a bit seedy, goes through up & down periods. It's a down period now.There's some really disreputable acting tenants here, & I strongly suspect a couple of recent arrivals  are total pigs. There's a  tenant now who walks around with a prison stare permanently stamped on his face,  meant to communicate that everyone is merely an object to him. It looks authentic.  He''ll need it again  if he's doing what I think he's doing with  his cellphone,  which would be illegal, & if he's as intelligent as he looks, which is not very.  I mind my own business.

The problem is that the recession has made it a tenant's market & my landlord,  who'd rather be  mildly discerning, has to keep the building filled. But even the high rise Cherry Hill building up the street is looking kind of shabby out front,  the shrubbery overgrown & always a "For Rent" sign stuck in the lawn.  My old apt in Rahway went  through similar phases; the landlord there would resort to  no-lease rentals, usually accompanied - I don't know why -  by  an increase in loud domestic disputes, some requiring police intervention.

I'm an aging bohemian, & bohemianism is essentially a bourgeois condition no matter where you are. It's an adaptation of a middle class lifestyle. If necessary, you get rid of almost everything except your books, music, art, & curious objects. Your home is arranged for either solitude or a salon - a place for other bohemians to hang out. I am separate from the other tenants here, a mystery. I tell them nothing.  I know at least one of them  believes I'm a recovering dope addict or alcoholic. I look like one. But people prefer conjecture to fact, & some of the tenants here are really bored.

In an ideal world I'd be residing in "artist" housing, something a lot of towns wish they had but nobody has really figured out how to do, which is why it's so rare. I'm aware of only one such building in the entire state of NJ. When a town says it wants "artists," it doesn't really mean painters, poets, dancers & musicians. It wants gallery-owners, architects, high end craftspeople,  National Geographic photographers,   & professional actors with regular gigs doing commercial voiceovers, all residing in the same neighborhood & paying market rate rent.

(If you put this building in the same kind of neighborhood in Jersey City or Brooklyn, at the same rents,  it would be filled with hipsters. )

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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