Friday, June 6, 2014

NYC Odds 'n' Ends

Here are several unrelated things that Mr NYC readers might find interesting. They show, in my mind, the things that are both great and infuriating about this fair city o' ours.

First, Airbnb. Subletting your apartment to friends, family, or vetted strangers is an old right of passage in NYC. It's also totally legal since the rent money is going to your landlord and not you. However, renting out your apartment like a hotel room and pocketing the cash yourself is a much more tricky proposition. Namely, it's illegal. People who rent out their apartments on a short-term basis and keep the money are cheating the city of hotel tax and hurting the business of legitimate, modest-priced hotels (and all those they employ). Also, these "b'n'bs" have increasingly become de facto brothels, with sex workers using them to meet clients. This illegal trade is aided by the website Airbnb, and currently the New York State Attorney General is cracking down on it. These types of "hotels" fall into a legal grey area: like sex, giving it away for free is legal, charging someone for it is a crime (unless, of course, you're a legal hotel). And, like prostitution, this type of business is hard to regulate. If the AG prevails, this part of the burgeoning "sharing economy" will be kille. But, if Airbnb survives, it will be yet another transformative "disruption" in the city's economy.

And here's something that really should be disrupted: NYC may be the capital of culture, the capital of the arts in America but, when it comes to arts education in our public schools, we do a lousy job. Funding for arts education, particularly in public schools in the poorest parts of the city, is scandalously low. There are schools in this town that don't have art teachers or cultural enrichment programs. This is terrible because arts education isn't just about painting or learning about painters. It's about the mind to creative possibilities, about using another part of the brain. The arts makes people smart, makes kids smarter, so our public schools MUST increase arts education in our poorer schools. 

Moving on, but staying on the subject of capital (as in money) and "capitals" (as in centers of power), NYC is, in case you didn't know, the "capital of capital." Wall Street is located here and the financial services industry is headquartered here. How did this happen? It wasn't by accident. This great segment from WNYC radio gives you a comprehensive history of how NYC went from being merely another American city 200 years ago into the global financial powerhouse of today. American may be ruled in Washington, DC but NYC is where the real power, the power of money, still resides.

Finally, bagels. We're not only the capital of "dough" but we're also the capital of dough that it shaped into a circle and boiled into a bread-like substance that can be toasted and shmeared with cream cheese and, if you so like, other taste items (like lox and ham and capers). Here's list of ten of the best bagel spots in NYC - and, what's funny, is that so many of them are outside of Manhattan!  

So there's my little NYC odds'n'ends about what makes this city ticked. I hope that you learned something. And, if not, that's okay too. 


  1. Nice blog and it makes me want to visit NYC. I've never been there.

  2. Check my blog out, I will link your blog if you link mine :)


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