I wish 2018 was in like, two weeks or something. I’m not ready for 2018. I’m never ready! Particularly never ever ready when it comes to reality. Whatever that is. I’m always tardy to the party. And it’s a total mystery why the wellness party e-vites perpetually occupy my spam folder. I prefer hedonistic hibernation, but alas and unfortunately for messy manic me, that’s not what the New Year is all about. It's all resolutions, spiritual hygiene, and the warrior pose-y etc. Hold please! I'm getting well-ish soon-ish!
The first week of 2018 was TOO MUCH but in a soporific kind of way, if that makes any sense. In other words, I only walked to my local coffee shop, and by local, I mean located-half-a-block-away coffee shop, where I’d order an iced coffee and alarm the baristas with my bravery, since it was really fucking cold out there in the real, alarming world. My shit but charming studio was also very cold, and I should really move out, but it’s rent stabilized and in Lower East Side and I split the rent with my sweet and sane boyfriend, so, no. Also, we’ve just bought two space heaters, which provide us with decent heat, and provide me with exceptional anxiety. I’ll blame my especially noisy via anxiety fat cat X my resistance-to-Ambien’s-purpose (sleep) combo for my 3-5 am Googling re: how you really shouldn’t plug space heaters into extension cords because it’ll produce flames and you will die. Now noted!
Sleep hasn’t been happening for me in 2018. While my boyfriend whisper-snored in an angelic manner last night, I furiously attacked a block of Parmesan (because, Ambien), my teeth as a rusty grater, where even the rind wasn’t safe. PARMESAN IS LOW IN FAT, THANKS HANDSOME DOCTOR, AND THANK YOU FOR COCOONING "YOU'RE OVERWEIGHT" WITH A "BUT STILL SEXY" COMPLIMENT. Oh, and there’s major progress! I haven’t woken up to any of what I’ll call “amateur Ambien poetry hour” emails this year with topics focused on my crazy. That’s so 2009-2017.
Do you ever open your eyes in the dark and move them around. Bc u can’t sleep. am i sleeping w eyes open. that’s how my brain often feels
Sent from my iPhone
They’re not scared of what I show them. Depressed, thejnij too otbthe eotkd. There’s a lot ! But throughout all of that fuvkery. They see the truth
Sent from my iPhone
brain clogged like a unforgiving pore. extract the crazy!
Sent from my iPhone
Maybe I should reemerge as an emo Instagram poet in 2018? Very on-trend, but too horror vulnerable story. Anyway, and clearly, I’m still bipolar II in 2018. That’ll never change. Depending on the day and whether my mood stabilizer feels like working, the bipolar keeps me on my feet and/or keeps me bedridden. I was really hoping for a jolt of inspiration, a hope for the future instead of hopelessness about today, tomorrow, forever. Where have all the delusional hypomania symptoms (including euphoria, compulsive chaos-laden behavior, a surge in energy/forgetting how to sleep, etc) gone? But my hypomania highs usually only last a week or two. Don’t you dare give up on me! I've reached the world-is-evil stage. Shit! Real question: Did I imagine that there was a full moon the other day? Don’t they like, recharge your spirit or something? I think (I was drunk) that my friend told me on New Year’s Eve that when there's a full moon he will have a seat on a bench outside St. Mark’s Church and caress his crystals and write down his intentions and then light the intentions on fire offering mystic debris to the universe. I threw out all of my crystals away months ago because I was certain they'd been cursed—I treated myself on my thirtieth birthday and purchased them from a witchcraft boutique because I needed a soul polish. That shimmering discounted bullshit wasn’t doing shit except collecting cat fur, anyway.
Also anyway—I faked being positive and looking forward to a spiritual rebirth of some desperate sort on New Year’s Day. Post-cold brew, I kicked off the AM by playing the healing YouTube sounds of Tibetan singing bowls—but my chakras, whatever the fuck those are, felt unaligned, so I switched to a Tina Turner chanting Nam-myoho-renge-kyo on loop video. A bonafide soul vibrator. I too chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and I’m supposed to do it twice a day, morning and night, because that’s what Nichiren Buddhists do and, hi, I am a Nichiren Buddhist. I was introduced to Buddhist chanting a week-ish after ringing in 2015, where activities may or may not have involved a Brooklyn bar bathroom, a line or three of an opiate (NEVER my drug of choice!) brew, a quick but ultimately fulfilling/stimulating midnight kiss with a straight indie rocker in said Brooklyn bar bathroom. (His girlfriend was downstairs.) Name-dropping alert: It was actually Courtney Love who introduced me to chanting, and she basically saved my life, and I write all about that in an essay for Dazed & Confused which was published a few weeks ago, when my hypomania-related I-am-so-wonderful feels were on high alert. I'm such a vile fraud—an inborn tragic theme in my life—because I haven’t really chanted with sincerity so much in 2018. But there’s no guilt in Buddhism, so some Buddhists say! As long as I possess the Buddhist spirit or whatever! I do, I do—say it til you believe it—I DO!!
Spirituality comes in many forms, okay? In true return-to-masochism form, 2018 has been all about self-medicating the pain away with The View. I’m trying not to watch TheWendy Williams Show, because she’s problematic, but I don’t wanna say problematic anymore, because I read in a tweet that those who say problematic are problematic. No idea who tweeted that. Anyway, back to my (The) Viewings. It’s a painful experience because of Meghan mostly awful McCain, but it’s so worth it, because of the punk ass Joy Behar VS Meghan “Well, my father __, when my father __” McCain ready-to-unravel matches. Oh, the other day I watched with medicated eyes a #TB YouTube of Joy Behar interviewing Camille Paglia, the controversial Gloria Steinem/Hillary Clinton-hating “dissident feminist,” who happens to be my favorite former college professor. Post-interview, I maniacally foraged through my memory shoe boxes for my final thesis paper wherein I made a case re: why Britney Spears, like Behar, is punk AF (I wrote this circa Brit Brit’s head-shave), because I wanted to remember what Paglia’s handwriting looked like (I imagine it’s very impatient doctor’s note-y) and if I got a B- or B+. HAD TO BE A PLUS. This was a fail, but I came across a Paglia calling Lena Dunham “a big pile of pudding” vid, and I let out a rafter-reaching squeal that sent my fat cat flying from the mattress, just as I wilted in guilt—I shouldn't support body shaming, which includes referring to Phil, my overweight cat, as a fat ass!
In addition, Paglia called the problematic (shit!) Dunham the “Andrea Dworkin of today,” and then I shamefully Googled whoever the fuck Andrea was. Answer: she was all anti-porn-y! How silly and annoying and so downright stupid. Well, fuck me raw (even though I exclusively top). Then I shamefully thought: maybe porn IS bad. I’m a recovering sex addict, after all. Actually, I’ve only been to a single Sex Addicts Anonymous meeting—I opted for a handful of Sexual Compulsives Anonymous circa 2014, when rocking a bleached blonde man-bun and basically living at amphetamine-heavy gay saunas was the norm for me, because I am NOT an “addict!" Some doctor told me you must have the ADDICT GENE to be an addict, which I do not in fucking fact have, and, when in a no-frills (aside from Iyanla ‘Fix Your Life’ drama) LGBTQ-only rehab AKA Pride Institute, a counselor told me YOU’RE AN ADDICT IF YOU SAY YOU’RE AN ADDICT. ( I didn’t say shit, and this gave me apt reason to check out of rehab in the middle of the night after just one week. So did the cafeteria menu and being accused of Robotripping but, long story.) I require more than 12-Steps to get my shit together. 12 meds, perhaps. Just kidding.
So far in 2018, I’ve thought A LOT about deleting the Facebook, Instagram and Twitter apps from my cracked iPhone. My Instagram following is depressing and no one likes my photos and, my typical evening pondering of DOES THE DOUBLE-CLEANSE PART OF THE KOREAN BEAUTY ROUTINE ACTUALLY WORK has gone the WAIT, ARE YOU ACTUALLY MAYBE UGLY? dizzying direction. All of the apps stress me the fuck out. The Trump tweets, Instagram stories of my designer-clad, fashion week front-row frequenting friends frolicking on private islands, kill-me-please memes, etc. I thought about posting something like “taking a social media break!! text me if there’s any petitions i need to sign, if we’re getting nuked, etc.” and I’m still thinking about it.
Thoughts are the worst. Too many fucking thoughts. Distract me from thoughts. This includes Instagram thots. (Reminder: Sex addict, I mean, sexually compulsive.) EXTRACT THE CRAZY FROM MY CLOGGED-LIKE-A-DIABOLICAL-PORE BRAIN. Still trying. I sort of organized my Korean beauty counter the other night—the cult of K-Beauty is a thing, by the way, but probably healthier than infinity hours spent on Grindr, the norm circa my sexually compulsive peak. The 10-Step K-Beauty routine is CRAZY but SO AM I. I strongly suggest using beauty water; it’s great and smoothing and soothing, and I just like that it's called beauty water. Other distractions so far in 2018: fast and furious scrolling Psychology Today in much-needed search of a therapist who takes Medicaid and incorporates meditation as well as a psychiatrist who takes Medicaid and is down with backing me off of the crazy pills and following/strutting down the holistic brick road. Then there’s the press trip. I am a freelance "fashion" writer who rarely turns down a press trip unless it involves beachside yoga and juice cleanses in the Maldives. I’m going to Hong Kong and Barcelona and Rome, everything comped, in exchange for covering their fashion weeks for a few mags this month (I am a fraudulent fashion writer!), but what I'm really looking forward to is the aimless solo zombie-strolling around (and by aimless, I mean to the gay district and/or a temple), so I can breathe in the solitude and fantasize about living wherever I am and escaping the Big Rotten Apple because things will be better then and why the fuck not? YOU ONLY LIVE ONCE.
Oh, right—oops!—I am a Buddhist and we believe in past lives and transforming our karma from our past lives. Two nights ago, I took in videos of Shirley MacLaine talking with intimidating yet convincing passion about reincarnation. Such a cosmic (See also: Ambien!) find. I’m morbid as fuck, so I will and I MUST make myself a believer! I will rehearse and motherfucking rehearse so I can live in the moment! Shirley is convinced life is show business. She agrees with Shakespeare. She believes we’ve all got multiple lives. She’s onto something—I definitely have multiple minds and me’s. I wish I could settle for just one me—the me that I like AKA tolerate. He's in there, somewhere. I absolutely play many a part, mostly typecast as the comic relief in many a dramedy. I’m way more comfortable with portraying zanily entertaining characters, because then I have spellbound fans, rather than the broken me who panic-sweats behind the “everything’s fine!” mask—he’s not so easy on the eyes. And don’t get me started on ruminating about who I was in a past life and/or who I’ll be in my forthcoming life. I'd rather roll in traffic.
I’m being dramatic. Not everything is terrible. I'm all over the place, as you've definitely already noticed, but I’m “getting better” in a numb manner. It’s only like day twelve of 2018! This is just a bipolar II-related low talking/typing, and, according to Reddit users, it will pass. I haven’t ugly cried at all let alone experienced panic/anxiety attacks (not clear on what’s the difference) which, in the past, may or may not have found me muffle-howling into my pillow things like “I won’t be here long!!!” (on earth) to my boyfriend after deleting another email from a pushy publicist alerting me about important things like what Bella Hadid wore last night. (I’m lying—I ugly cried last night, but it was situational and wasn’t an out-of-nowhere unhinged person ugly cry.) 2017, you can keep that mess. Please keep it. It’ll get better. I’m depressed, I’m sick, whatever. Everyone’s sad.
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Walk down almost any major New York street – say Fifth Avenue near Trump Tower, or Madison Avenue from midtown to the Upper East Side. Perhaps venture down Canal Street, or into the West Village around Bleecker, and some of the most expensive retail areas in the world are blitzed with vacant storefronts.
The famed Lincoln Plaza Cinemas on the Upper West Side announced earlier this week that it is closing next month. A blow to the city’s cinephiles, certainly, but also a sign of the effects that rapid gentrification, coupled with technological innovation, are having on the city.
Over the past several years, thousands of small retailers have closed, replaced by national chains. When they, too, fail, the stores lie vacant, and landlords, often institutional investors, are unwilling to drop rents.
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A recent survey by New York councilmember Helen Rosenthal found 12% of stores on one stretch of the Upper West Side is unoccupied and ‘for lease’. The picture is repeated nationally. In October, the US surpassed the previous record for store closings, set after the 2008 financial crisis.
The common refrain is that the devastation is the product of a profound shift in consumption to online, with Amazon frequently identified as the leading culprit. But this is maybe an over-simplification.
“It’s not Amazon, it’s rent,” says Jeremiah Moss, author of the website and book Vanishing New York. “Over the decades, small businesses weathered the New York of the 70s with it near-bankruptcy and high crime. Businesses could survive the internet, but they need a reasonable rent to do that.”
Part of the problem is the changing make-up of New York landlords. Many are no longer mom-and-pop operations, but institutional investors and hedge funds that are unwilling to drop rents to match retail conditions. “They are running small businesses out of the city and replacing them with chain stores and temporary luxury businesses,” says Moss.
In addition, he says, banks will devalue a property if it’s occupied by a small business, and increase it for a chain store. “There’s benefit to waiting for chain stores. If you are a hedge fund manager running a portfolio you leave it empty and take a write-off.”
New York is famously a city of what author EB White called “tiny neighborhood units” is his classic 1949 essay Here is New York. White observed “that many a New Yorker spends a lifetime within the confines of an area smaller than a country village”.
In Vanishing New York, Moss writes of the toll the evisceration of distinct neighborhoods through real estate over-pricing has on the city. “It’s homogenizing and changing the character of the city,” he says. Even where landlords are offering competitive leases, they are often for two or five years, not the customary 10.
“We’re seeing more stores front emptying, and we’re seeing a lot of turnover where you see spaces fill temporarily and then empty. And it’s continuing to get worse,” he says.
In business terms, the crisis in commercial real estate has led to a wave of consolidations. Earlier this month, France’s Unibail-Rodamco and Australia’s Westfield agreed to merge in a deal worth $24.7bn to form the world’s second-biggest owner of shopping malls, including Manhattan’s Brookfield Place.
Vacant real estate is not the only effect of an over-priced market; the boom in WeWork, a work-space company valued at around $20bn, and store pop-ups could also be responsible.
But some believe the market could have reached a turning point. “It’s like Hunger Games,” says New York retail property agent Robin Zendell. “If you’re smart and innovative you can survive this market. Landlords and retailers are having to listen to a new generation of shoppers.”
Like Moss, Zendell believes it’s too simplistic to blame Amazon. The same signals of over-pricing are seen in every area of real estate, including housing. “When you see [that] every corner has a bank or a pharmacy, and there is a gym on the second floor, there’s a simple reason for that: people can’t afford the rent.
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“Why did restaurants go to Brooklyn? Because it’s cool? No, because it was cheap, and [because] restaurateurs were sick of giving investors’ money away so they could pay thir rent.”
In some areas, notably Bleecker Street, once lined with fashion boutiques including Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs, too many vacancies create their own problems. “Rents have fallen but now there are so many empty stores there, nobody wants to be alone. So they’ve created more of a crisis.”
But there are glimmers of turn-around. Zendell has observed five deals in SoHo in the past month, indicating that landlords are becoming too nervous to sit around. “They helped to create the bubble, but now it’s our market.”
Renters insist landlords have an investment in the game, either through taking a performance-based interest in the tenant or some other mechanism. Retailers that signed 10-year leases at a high number per sq ft and then had to pay to get out of that lease are insisting on some participation.
“Any new deal is going to have a pre-nup, the location has to be right, and the landlord has to have some skin in the game,” says Zendell.
Zendell also believes some retailers are beginning to find their way. She cites Everlane as an example of upcoming brand that is managing to harness the power of the internet to bricks-and-mortar retail. Online, she points out, is good for things you need, but less so for things you want.
“You still need people and interaction, but you need a different approach: the modern customer is very smart. Brick and mortar used to be only about sales, now it’s about marketing, driving people to the internet and for helping people to understand your product.”