Monday, November 9, 2009

Why The New York Times Real Estate Section Sucks

The economy has taken a turn for the worse lately, as you may have noticed. The New York Times Real Estate section certainly noticed, and they've written a heart-wrenching piece on the decline of the fortunes of an oft-ignored minority who was hit especially hard by the recession. No, not blacks—young, wealthy bachelors who can no longer afford lavish Manhattan apartments thanks to the rising unemployment rate.

Or so the article implies by mentioning that 7.7 percent of young men are unemployed in New York. It goes on to describe specific examples of young men who, while not actually unemployed, have been forced to adjust their lifestyles in horrifically inconvenient ways.

For instance, there's former MTV reality-show host Jason Brooks, who “paid $5,000 a month for a 2,000-square-foot TriBeCa loft that he shared with his wife..Now, says Mr. Brooks, whose stage name is Brooks Buford, he pays $1,600 a month for a tiny studio in SoHo.”

When I read that passage, my heart went out to this fine citizen, who lives off of royalties from his recording career. It sounds like a divorce, rather than the economy, forced him to change his lifestyle, and he may pay more than three times the rent I do, but still—SoHo! Blech! I bet his building doesn't even have a doorman! Is that any way to treat the former star of something called Trailer Fabulous?

At least he didn't have to move to Bushwick, like poor Joe Tandle. As the Times relates, Joe was so hammered by the economic downturn, he decided to buy an apartment instead of renting one. He paid half a million dollars for a 1,900-square-foot pad that he can't even afford to fill with leather couches. He made a brave face for the article, saying he didn't really want rich “hipster friends or whatever” and mentioned that “sometimes you want to have a ridiculous 150 people and a world-class D.J. in your basement,” but you could read between the lines. The man was crying inside.

How can a Manhattan bachelor date a successful model or actress in these conditions? How will they have enough self-confidence to seduce beautiful women from Finland when they are only paying $1,000 a month in rent? The best they can hope for now, these poor huddled masses, is going home with a moderately attractive bassist from a punk band.

America needs its Manhattanite bachelors to be living impossibly lavish lifestyles. Remember the 80s, when Reagan was in charge and bond traders could have bathmats made from hundred dollar bills? Or the late 90s, when technogeeks could sip brands of alcohol so expensive that normal people had never heard of them? Those were the glory days of our nation. Now we're mired in an unwinnable war in Afghanistan, our nation is torn apart by the prospect of health care paid for by the government, and bachelors in Manhattan are forced to cram themselves two at a time into ten-room apartments that they were previously able to afford by themselves. That's only five rooms apiece!

Look at that picture at the top of the post. Does that young, attractive, gainfully employed white man in a scarf look happy? Yes? Well, he's not as happy as he could be! Truly, his demographic has been “one of the hardest hit” by the recession, as the newspaper says.

Articles like this are why people respect the New York Times even in this age—they aren't afraid to run articles about a tiny segment of the population and describe “trends” that exist only in their newsroom. If they tell you a few people moving to less expensive apartments is news, it's news, motherfucker! You wonder sometimes, “Isn't the Times Real Estate section pretty much lifestyle porn for anyone who isn't extremely rich? And don't the people who can relate to articles like this one get the Wall Street Journal anyway?”

No, of course not. Now, if you'll excuse me, I've got to go look for a job. And while I struggle to pay rent the next couple months, I'll have one thing to console me—at least I'm not a wealthy bachelor.

The Decline and Fall of the Bachelor Pad (NYT)

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