November 7, 2017 (Tuesday)

by Yule Heibel on November 6, 2018

There are elections today, but the municipal one I could vote in is the one I’m skipping out on, instead enjoying my time in New York City. It’s a different visit from last time. I’m also quite disenchanted with the hotel.

Wasn’t crazy about it last time, and this time its lack of comforts is really annoying me. There’s no proper lobby – at least nothing that feels like a resting spot. Just a pass-through: cold, tiled, with cheap plastic-seeming (resin?) “furniture,” flimsy chairs; it has a cheap dormitory feel. It’s November, therefore colder than end-0f-September, and still they keep the AC cranked up in the breakfast-cum-bar area, another helter-skelter school-cafeteria-style place with bad feng shui and a shitty layout. The rooms, meanwhile, are all as small as possible, and even though intended for double occupancy, there’s just one chair and one extremely tiny closet-and-single-drawer space. The room barely has any surfaces; there’s a “desk,” which is part of the “closet” construction, but its surface is dark, cramped, mingy, and cluttered with hotel junk for which no other surfaces exist. I write in bed on my lap, but it’s not exactly an Edith Wharton experience.

The hotel, in other words, hasn’t a single comfortable place to hang out in. It’s okay for crashing for one night, but we’re here for four. I’m also noticing that this absence of a spot where I can come to rest really affects my ability to write and even gather my thoughts. Given that NYC is rushing in on my thoughts, this has a kind of double-whammy effect.

One thing that has undoubtedly improved over the older (but more comfortably commodious and accommodating) hotels is window technology, as well as HVAC. I recall midtown hotels in the 1980s where the single-pane double-hung sash windows, while not opening more than five inches to prevent people from leaping to their death, also did nothing to block out noise, even at ten to twenty stories up. Constant racket. The new windows now installed everywhere do a great job at blocking noise, and even I, an open-window fiend, don’t mind keeping them closed because the HVAC has improved somewhat, too. So I come to the room for the quiet, but not the comfort (except the bed is comfortable), not the vibe, the feng shui, the je ne sais quoi. But “quiet” is a comfort in itself.

Back to the visit: it’s more familiar, but different. Today is much colder, and I have less of an agenda. Yesterday afternoon I actually spent a couple of hours in the room, reading, catching up on things (while I grumbled about doing it from Mattress Central). I had realized that some of my planned destinations were closed Mondays. Today I hope to tick off my list at least three things: visit 550 Madison Ave. (the ex-AT&T Building) to see and visualize for myself what the “glasswashing” plan will do to or for the building (and since I’m right there, I’ll ogle Trump Tower); visit the Public Library for a maps exhibition; visit the Marlborough Gallery for a Gary Panter exhibition.

Speaking of Trump: yesterday, as W. and I walked from the hotel through Lower Manhattan in the morning, we came across a Trump building on, if I recall correctly, Wall St. Lots of Chinese tourists were photographing themselves in front of it. Same thing with Wall Street’s famous charging bull. Capitalism’s icons really rule with them, those “Communists,” haha…

We walked past some office-to-residential conversion on Pine which actually advertised apartments and rents, so you could see what $5,500 per month would get you. Or $4,500 per month. The latter would almost be tolerable, space-wise, for a short period. But if you wanted to accommodate visitors (like your kids), you’d need the $5,500 space. And that’s a lot… Boston is the same now. Money ain’t what it used to be.

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