Developing Rent

3 11 2009

When the GM found out I had a plane ticket to Panama City, my time at the bistro was over.

I was kind of bummed, but understood. He wanted someone dedicated to New York. And that wasn’t me.

I was ready to go home, only my departure was still a couple weeks away. Thankfully, Shaun, my host in Queens, was very cool about me staying with him, but I didn’t want to overstay my welcome.

Shaun had a tendency to brood.

So I did some Couchsurfing again and came across Mike, a young developer in the East Village who was willing to host me for one night.

“I usually don’t accept couchsurfing requests from Americans,” Mike told me.

Again, my Southern heritage proved to be a novelty.

Mike was Jewish and his apartment was pristine. Not a collectible out of place. He was well-traveled and planning a trip to Turkey.

We went to the corner coffee shop in his neighborhood and Mike explained how a revitalization had occurred here during the last decade.

“This was once the neighborhood of ‘Rent,'” Mike said, referring to the hit Broadway musical.

Rent Soundtrack

No Day But Today

But the desolation depicted in ‘Rent’ was hardly visible now. Mike seemed very proud of this.

Shaun, on the other hand, had a different opinion entirely. He blasted developers like Mike for ‘destroying the character’ of the East Village.

Whatever the case, I was a guest in Mike’s house for the night and I was determined to show gratitude.

During our visit to the coffeeshop, Mike revealed his connections to the journalism world. During the course of conversation, I learned we had mutual friends in Miami and, surprise, surprise, had attended the same media convention in Brooklyn a few years back.

After coffee, Mike insisted I purchase an umbrella because the rain was not going to relent. We then returned to his place and he graciously allowed me to check my e-mail on his fancy Mac computer.

Mike was a nice-looking fellow. His gray hair was just starting to sprout and he took good care of himself. We watched the Gary Cooper classic ‘Pride of the Yankees’ together.

Great baseball film with all the immigrant flair of New York’s early days.

Those were the days.

‘Pride of the Yankees’ is no longer playing on Broadway and, for that matter, neither is ‘Rent.’ Instead, they have been replaced by the likes of “The Phantom of the Opera,” “Mary Poppins,” “South Pacific” and “The Lion King.”

Mike had to be at the office early in the morning so he retired after the movie. His couch rolled out into a bed and, for the first time in a long time, I got a good night’s sleep.

The next morning we ate ceral together and I packed up my Ben Sherman bag and Mike escorted me to the elevator, past the building’s front desk attendant and down to the street.

It was a rare sunny morning for June. We said our goodbyes and Mike headed off to work and I to the nearest post office. It was time to send some more postcards to friends and family.

Time to wait in another line.

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