Rent Is Too High

Food for Thought

Guillaume invited me to a panel discussion about social networks at this fancy building on Fifth Avenue for which the French taxpayers are paying an astronomical rent every month. That seems to bother Guillaume a lot as the topic came up many times in the evening. I’m sure all French politicians have to pay for secret apartments in Paris for their mistresses, so, I don’t think they consider this a big expense.

The discussion involved four women, two of them French with a heavy accent. It was rather dull because they were all very nice to each other. I don’t think it’s possible to have a serious discussion with a French accent. One of them kept describing the current state of social media as “bullshit” with a French accent, and it just sounded like a fancy French food like “béchamel.” I think the French people have an orgasm every time they hear the word “regulation.” They were all for it.

After the discussion (or rather an intense agreeing session), we headed over to J. G. Melon for their burger. This Upper East Side institution, Guillaume explained, is full of either tourists or locals, which would mean that someone like me who lives in other parts of New York is rarely seen here. This characterization seems accurate. Along the bar counter, older white clientele seems to be installed permanently, chatting away with one another while the tables were occupied by mostly tourists dressed in clothes not sold at any stores here.

The bacon cheeseburger was quite good and cheap too by the Manhattan standard: Only $13.25. But, would I travel up there for it? No. Good burgers can be found in any neighborhood, so, New Yorkers in other neighborhoods wouldn’t bother. The UES residents will just have to get used to dining only with tourists.

This is what happens when rent is too high. Money is the ultimate medium for art, but if artists have to earn a lot of it first before starting, not much would happen. So, the only viable solution to foster them is the low cost of living. The whole neighborhood of UES is sort of like an empty nest from which the young birds have already flown away, leaving the parents to preserve what’s left of it for nostalgic reasons.