Back in the fall of 1982, I and Wife #1 came to the U.S. for the first time in my life — in fact, the first time I’d ever left the African sub-continent at all — and because I didn’t know diddly about New York City (our first stop), I booked us a room at the Hotel Edison just off 47st and Broadway because it was cheap.  I didn’t know, at the time, that the area was known as Hell’s Kitchen for a very good reason, but in those days I was tough and didn’t really give a damn — I was coming from fucking Johannesburg, how bad could New York be?  (Not bad at all by comparison, actually.)

Anyway, from memory, the room cost about $47+tax a night, and while it was awful, I’d stayed in much worse (errr South Africa, remember) and while we we assailed by Volkswagen-sized cockroaches a couple times, the hotel was close to most of what we wanted to see around Times Square, and was easy walking distance to Greenwich Village to the south and Central Park to the north.  Also, the delis on 8th Ave were fantastic — my first experience with a gut-busting NY-style pastrami sandwich was an eye-opener — and so we spent our days walking around the place, seeing the sights, eating deli food and holding our noses to block out the smells (garbage strike).

Anyway, years later (after the Great Wetback Episode of 1985) I had occasion to go from Chicago back to New York, this time on business, and as the Manhattan branch office was quite nearby, I booked into the Edison again, for nostalgia’s sake.

It was the same crappy hotel, same foul rooms, only this time the room cost $285+tax.  When I first saw the rate when I was booking the trip, I thought the hotel had to have undergone a huge refurbishment to justify that kind of price increase;  but of course it hadn’t:  it was just New York Fucking City.

Still later, I checked out the hotel again, just out of curiosity, and the rate was $385.  And from what I could gather, still no refurb of the place.

I should remind everyone that I have never shrunk from paying top dollar for a quality product, whether it was The Mayfair Hotel in London, the Madison in Paris, Imperial in Tokyo or wherever.  Five-star is five-star, and there ya go.  Paying five-star prices for total shit, however… nu-uh.  And from my experience, most Manhattan hotels were shit.  Even the “highbrow” ones like the Waldorf-Astoria or the Algonquin were overpriced flophouses, and their astronomical prices were justified either by the “cachet” attached to being in New York, NY [eyecross]  or else the high (overpriced) cost of the real estate.

So you can imagine my response when I saw this article via Insty:

During the second quarter ended June 30, average asking rents along 16 major retail corridors in Manhattan declined for the eleventh consecutive quarter, falling to $688 per square foot, according to a report from the commercial real estate services firm CBRE. The drop marked the first time since 2011 that prices dropped below $700, the firm said, representing an 11.3% decline from a year ago.

A number of retailers have outright stopped paying rent to their landlords during the pandemic, which in some instances is resulting in litigation.

Boo fucking hoo.  Couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of supercilious chiselers and snooty price gougers.  And then there’s this, at the end of the article:

“I think there is a short-term and a long-term look at this,” NKF’s Roseman said. “Short-term, we are in survival mode right now. But when things do sort of turn back around, it will still be the same. There is only one Fifth Avenue in the world.”

If you look up “Wishful Thinking” in your dictionary, this sentiment will be under the heading.  (It probably links to “Dinosaur Perspectives” too, speaking as it does about L.A.’s Rodeo Drive and Chicago’s Michigan Avenue as being Places To See And Be Seen.  Dream on, Bubba:  we’re facing a new world.)

Anyway, I see that the Edison is “temporarily” closed because of the Chinkvirus — and from the looks of it, has had a refurb since I last checked — but one of the “business-class” hotels on Broadway, where I paid over $500 a night in 2007, is now asking $121.

No wonder they’re not paying the rent.


C.W. posted this pic yesterday:

See that rocky thing behind the house?  To me, that says “backstop” and if you put a shooting table on that deck so that you’re shooting past the corner of the house, and mounted a few hanging steel targets among the bushes, there’s all sorts of plinking fun to be had.

On the other hand, because the place is in Norway, there are no doubt over a hundred little laws and regulations to prevent such activities.

Oh, To Be In England

…in normal times (whatever those are these days).

In Boscastle, Cornwall, where The Englishman has a holiday cottage, a local restaurant has set up a 24-hour webcam to show the outskirts of the village where the river runs down the hill on its way to the Atlantic.  Yesterday I went there, expecting to find a black screen.  Silly rabbit, I forgot it was England (note the time stamp):

I sat for a while, just watching as the occasional car went past on the road and people walked up and down the paths which run along both sides of the stream, and my mind went back two and a half years, when I was there all by myself…

A pint of Tribute Ale (local Cornish brew, on a par with Wadworth 6x) at the Cobweb Inn, hot fresh rolls from the little Spar grocery store behind from where we’re watching, and of course, the matchless fish ‘n chips from Sharon’s Plaice, just behind us to the right.

It’s a scene as familiar to me as my own backyard, it was one of the best weeks of my life, and I wish I was there right now.

Update:  15 minutes later:

Time to turn in.

Update 2:  The Englishman writes:

I too logged on yesterday to see the sunset.  The little building opposite the Old Store House has been turned into a bijou restaurant.
A lady staggered out with a bunch of flowers and meandered up the path to the bus stop which provided much needed vertical stability.  It was a joy to watch, especially with the jeopardy of the stream edge which she was close to several times.
I wish I had been there.

Monday Funnies

When this is what faces you on Monday:

…it’s time to start thinking about getting away from it all:

And here’s a small incentive to get outta here and fly to exotic climes:

Of course, you’ll never actually see anything like that, but it’s all part of the dream, innit?

Fond Farewell

I see that British Airways is finally retiring their wonderful Boeing 747 airliners from service, which gives me yet one more reason not to fly with them.

Seriously:  if I ever had a choice between flying DFW-LHR-DFW on American or BA, I generally preferred to fly with BA even though my track record with the pocket-picking bastards has not always been a good one.  And the 747 was the only reason, because these ugly giants were designed back in the day when passenger comfort was the goal (as opposed to sardine-packing economic reasons, e.g. the 777), and Boeing aircraft could be relied on to act like airliners and not lawn darts (ahem  737MAX).

And call me a timorous wussy, but I’ve always preferred four engines over two when it comes to long-haul flights, because if I’m flying at 40,000 feet over an ocean, I like having the redundancy of lots of engines — no matter (or especially because) how much the engineers try to reassure me that two engines will be just the same, cross their hearts.  I know the odds;  and while one engine failure is bad with either a two- or four-engine aircraft, two engine failures will have a totally different outcome for a 777 versus  a 747.

Gah.  It’s probably a good thing that the Chinkvirus has fucked up international travel for a while.  It’ll give my irritation a chance to subside.

Darwin Tourism

I see that some idiot was trapped on a volcano, can’t be rescued and will no doubt be dead by the time you read this:

A tourist is stuck close to the crater of the highest active volcano in Eurasia with rescuers unable to reach him by foot or helicopter.
The ailing man is stranded some 650ft below the rim of the giant 15,580 ft Klyuchevskaya Sopka in Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula.
Spewing volcanic activity and a melting high-altitude glacier is preventing rescuers getting close to the tourist, aged 35.
A helicopter bid to lower rescuers onto the rim of the volcano so they could climb down to the man had to be aborted due to extreme toxic gas and vapour emissions and atrocious weather.

I have the same reaction to this as when some mope is eaten by a shark while swimming among a bunch of them, or when some “adventurer” falls off a mountain while climbing it “because it was there”:  they were asking for trouble.

I have a simple policy when it comes to travel:  don’t do stupid shit that will endanger your life, and don’t go to dangerous places (e.g. an active volcano, a shark-infested lagoon or any Middle Eastern- or primitive Third World country, some overlap).

That’s my own personal policy;  yours may differ in that you get off on danger or want to see exotic (read: shithole) places and so on.  I am never going to be bitten by a shark, for instance, because my idea of a maritime adventure is sitting in a dockside restaurant in Cannes or Boothbay Harbor drinking a fine wine and eating the local delicacy — not swimming in a sea full of riptides and stuff with spikes or sharp teeth.  Of course, said restaurants are not without their own set of perils, e.g. prices where you need a magnifying glass to find the decimal point, scrofulous Frenchmen or New Englanders and so on, but on the whole, the mortal peril thereof is somewhat lower than coming face to face with a fucking tiger shark in its own habitat.

Call me a coward, or “unadventurous” if you will, but I will point out that I was once surrounded by Puerto Rican gangsters in Hell’s Kitchen simply because I had an urge for a pastrami sandwich from the local deli.  (That story for another time.)  So I’m not that much of a coward, and sometimes there is a decent risk/reward balance.

But the reward of a wonderful deli sandwich is far greater than a “look, I’m standing on the crater of an erupting volcano” moment, and in any event, I’d rather risk death by choking while trying to inhale the entire sandwich than knowing I’m going to be cooked alive by molten lava.

Your mileage may vary, of course, but you’re not going to change my mind.