The Curious Case of the Sick Loft and the Mysterious Superintendent

It’s hot; I’m weary from the heat, my colleague Jason is ready to pass out.  When we arrive at the building with the hottest loft, I’m looking around for an attendant station where I am to meet the mysterious Mr. Wong, who will guide my colleague Jason and I to the loft apartment.  Yet, try as we might, we see neither a proper attendant station, nor Mr. Wong.  In fact, we see a dearth of evidence that any sort of human society exists at the address we’ve been given–rather it is the remnants of failed lamp store.  Yes, the loft building is two doors down, but no Mr. Wong.

We try the lamp store next to the lamp store–everywhere there are lamp stores.  A random man appears to us and announces, upon being questioned, that he has never heard of Mr. Wong.  In fact, we learn that no one has ever heard of Mr. Wong.  It is as if he is a figment of the listing department’s imagination, or some sort of metaphor for non-existence.   My colleague Jason as I will not relent in our quest to access this hot listing, so we stand on the street and look around.

Suddenly a gaunt figure appears out of nowhere.  He is tanned from an eternity of sunlight, and seems to hover as he gets closer.  He is dressed as a 19th century train conductor might dress.  He must be the famous Mr. Wong, I reckoned.  Because if he is not, we are fuc*ed.

“You know,” I said, “is there some way to reach you?”

Mr. Wong stares back at me.

“Do you have a cell phone?  I’d like to take down your number for the future,” I ask cordially.

“No I no have,” he says blankly, pulling his twenty pound cell phone from his pocket as it had just began to ring. “Apartment?” he asks us a moment later.

He is not the friendliest bloke, but he doesn’t seem particularly unfair either.  My subsequent questions are answered with a no or yes, but the tone remains the same.

The apartment itself is sick; it’s almost as big as a military barracks bay.  I bet one could create a roller rink in this place.

I give Mr. Wong a warm smile and inform him of what a pleasure it was to meet him and see such a wonderful loft.  But Mr. Wong is not impressed.  I quickly realize that Mr. Wong has laughed every laugh, seen every sight and lived every emotion, and no longer relates to fools like us.

But just as Joyce ends The Dead with a run of surprisingly evocative prose, Mr. Wong is determined to strike us.  He produces a top hat, cane, rain jacket and motions Jason and myself to be silent, and then he breaks into “Singing in the Rain.”  And the skies above darken, rain begins to fall, and Mr. Wong is twirling about, singing and singing.

The correct procedure for riding an escalator in Manhattan

Contrary to popular belief, the laws of thermodynamics, physics and time do not apply in Manhattan (south of 96th Street).  If, for example, you were to drive a zip car through the boro, you would find that an object in motion tends not to stay in motion if that object is on, say, the street.  Plowing through a park in daylight may indeed allow one a slight bit of continuous driving, but it would also lead to incarceration, alas.  But to my point: for those of you who are not sure about how to ride an escalator in the city of New York, here’s a brief primer.

1) There’s space for two people to stand in a single column (side by side) while ascending or descending on the escalator, but this fact does not mean that doing so is ever a good idea.  In fact, it’s pretty stupid, and only stupid people and outsiders do it.  Don’t be stupid; don’t stand next to your pal and block the rest of humanity from getting to where they need to be.

2) There really isn’t a second point.

Hell is waiting on-line at Duane Reade

Call it the “Duane Reade Experience.”  You’re racing against the clock to get to work in time to save the merger from crumbling like a bodega-bought pound cake, you’re held hostage on a line at Duane Reade (scientific studies have proven that New Yorkers spend a full third of their lives waiting on a line at DR) because the movement-challenged cashier is having a hard time working while their annoying cousin repeatedly calls them about last night’s episode of Glee.  There is no real hope for DR in this, or the promised next, life.


Thus spoke Sandler (or what I think about sales books)

As the astute and loquacious film actor Samuel L. Jackson once opined on-screen, “sometimes you have to just break it down for a motherf*^ker.”  So, let me say this about sales books: pick one, read it and then commit yourself to the art of selling.

And so, there seems to be a pantheon of sales gods with funny names like Earl Nightengale, Dale Carnaghie and David Sandler.  I’ve read the epic tomes of the latter of this lot, and to be sure, have learned quite a bit.  Unlike a Malcolm Gladwell read, where we’re treated to a grandiloquent extrapolation of things we already knew (like the fact that bad pilots tend to crash airplanes, or that Canadians are good at hockey), Carnaghie and Sandler speak more about techniques and specific methods of operating.  (Let’s jettison Carnaghie from this discussion, he bores me quite a lot–besides, his thousand page dissertation about his lectures at the local YMCA during the dark ages is too frightfully boring to account for here.)

David H. Sandler.  Yes, you’ve never heard the name before and you’re probably not even in sales, either.  Double fiddlesticks; keep reading.   With Sandler, we’re handed a few epistles about what made Sandler into Sandler–several anecdotes about being a salesman of snackfoods, a hound on the golf course and then fired for some stupid reason or other.  But, much like Zarathrustra, who descended from the wilderness in a Wagnerian attempt redeem mankind, Sandler descends from the golf course and snackfood business to redeem himself for having sold twinkies for a living and having snorted gun powder (okay, I made that last bit up).  And just as Zarathustra preached the ubermensch, Sandler preaches the uber something or other.

We learn, as we read, all sorts of interesting things, then the book ends and you’re left needing to reread it in order to understand.

I personally believe that you need direction if you’re going to do anything well.  As luck would have it, I find the gospel of Sandler to be useful in my line of work, and would encourage other agents to forsake it as I do not need my competition getting better. 

So, You Can’t Teach a Kid to Ride a Bike at a Seminar : The Sandler Sales Institute’s 7-Step System for Successful Selling is the name of the Sandler book.  Click is the name of a movie with Adam Sandler.

The Photoshoot and an incredibly untrue story

Sometimes luck is on your side, just as it was for me today. As I strolled back to the office this afternoon from an appointment on the Upper West Side, I was blissfully unaware that I was headed for destruction. You see, it somehow got in my head that today’s photoshoot would be held at the *office* and not in, say, a professional studio. That’s right, your trusted real estate agent was headed on a path to silly-ville.

It was a funny thing that I happened upon my colleague Tom on Houston Street some thirty minutes before my appointment at the studio was to begin. “Hi Tom,” I said, still ignorant. Tom looked at me, observed my incredibly calm demeanor and the fact that I was headed in the wrong direction and asked if I was worried. “Worried,” I said, “whatever for, friend Tom.”

“We’re going to be late,” came the reply.
“But Tom, the shoot is a full thirty minutes in the future, and it takes but two or three to walk to the office.”
“Huh, the shoot’s uptown.”
“Say what, motherf@#$%$er?”

And with that began a mad dash through the subway system, a veritable race against the clock and against time itself.  For our task, a herculean one, was to somehow reach the studio in time for makeup, paperwork, and yes, the shoot itself.   Pushing a helpless pedestrian to the ground–despite not even being in the way–Tom himself fell to the ground and shrieked “No, save yourself.  Go on without me.”

“But Tom,” I pleaded, “you’re not even hurt.”

Pulses racing, we ran at an olympic clip to the station, through the turnstiles and onto the platform.  And waited. Waited.  I counted the tiles on the ceiling, while Tom fixed his tie.  Then I realized that it only takes twenty minutes to get to Seventh and W 27th.  In fact, we got there rather early.

Day one as a Manhattan real estate agent

It was nearing midnight (the end of my inaugural day as a real estate agent in Manhattan), and I was at a Pub in Park Slope, Brooklyn.  My lady companion is telling anyone who will listen that I’m a real estate agent now.   “Yes, (Led Zepplin cover band bassist), my boy is a Realtor.”

“A Realtor?” I grimaced, “that’s a trademarked term. I can’t even call myself that yet.  Besides, when I think of Realtor, I think of a particularly dainty elderly woman arranging flowers on a stoop in Brooklyn.”   How strange.

“No [kidding], dude, that’s still a righteous job,” the bespectacled bassist mused, doubtlessly free from images of flowers and stoops.

It hit me a moment later, over a glass of Pinot Noir, while Cuban hip-hop blared out of the jukebox, that I was a real estate agent now.  I wasn’t in real estate school, nor was I merely pontificating about the profession while images of Ben Franklin danced inside my head; no, I was a living, breathing agent with the business cards and sore feet to prove it.

And what did I do on my first day?

Mostly I viewed apartments on the west side.  I listened as a thousand different landlords held a clinic explaining (in as many ways) the peculiar idiosyncrasies of door-opening.  “You put the key in,” one said in a thick Russian brogue.  “Then you must use power when you turn it.”  His seriousness suggested a past as either a nuclear physicist or as someone who used to defuse landmines.

My colleague Tom and I exchanged glances.  “Power” was such a vague and foreboding term that as we rode the elevator, we silently contemplated the sort of struggle that could soon befall us.   The door opened normally, of course; as was the case later when a landlord explained (using thousands of words) the relative difficulty of turning a key, then pushing the door forward.

To their credit, the landlords I met were extremely nice and their particular concern was more a sign of their kindness than a question of our competence in this basic human task.  It’s still funny.

Another thing that happens to you is that you notice the city in a way you never have before.  Its myopic beauty, its shimmering trees, its good will, its rich diversity of culture; it’s enough to make me actually be thankful that my parents brought me here as a young boy.

And so that was the beginning. 

Superior Ink, 400 West 12th Street

Superior Ink
Superior Ink, at 400 West 12th Street, is a Greenwich Village Condo building.  It was built in 2008, and is considered a post-war building.  Like many of the condo buildings in Manhattan, Superior Ink (as of this date, 1/12/2010) claims to offer a 421-a Tax Abatement.

This Manhattan condominium is a Leed Certified Building, which means that it was built with the environment and well-being of its eventual inhabitants in minds.

Located near the water between West and Washington, the building is actually a bit of a hike to the subway.  On the other hand, what you sacrifice in being near the subway is more than made-up for by virtue of two items.  First, this condo building is only a few blocks from Toons Thai Cuisine [417 Bleecker St at Bank Street, near 8th Avenue], which happens to be one of the best Thai restaurants in Manhattan.  Second, this area of town has a touch of class and remains relatively free of the throngs that congest Times Square. 

It’s worth it a trek to the West Village to look around.

The Laurel
, 400 East 67th Street

The Laurel

The Laurel, at 400 East 67th Street is an Upper East Side Condo building.  It was built in 2008, and is considered a post-war building. The Developer is
Alexico Management Group, Inc.  Like many of the condo buildings in Manhattan, The Laurel (as of this date, 1/12/2010) claims to offer a 421-a Tax Abatement.

Perhaps most impressive is the fact that this Manhattan condominium is a Leed Certified Building, which means that it was built with the environment and well-being of its eventual inhabitants in minds.

Located at First Avenue, the building is actually a mere three blocks from the 6 train at Lexington Avenue, and a reasonable (think health-promoting) walk from the F train at 63rd and Lexington Avenue. 

I personally like the area as it is neither overwhelming, nor underwhelming in any sense.  You’re not in the thick of things, so to speak, nor are you too far from the action.  Relaxing seems possible here, and that’s always a good sign for one of the busiest cities on earth.  The area is primarily serviced by the Lexington Avenue line (comprising the 4, 5 & 6 trains) of the Metropolitan Transit Authority (a state run agency that provides mass transit options within the city limits of New York City).   There are also city buses, but no one with any desire to get anywhere quickly on the East Side ever takes them.  

If you live here, you will be taking the 6 train to and from downtown.  Grand Central is a few stops, and lower Manhattan’s Financial District is never more than 25 minutes or so away.

As of this writing, my feeling is that there are good deals to be had in the condo market.  See for yourself.

The agency with the exclusive is “The Sunshine Group, Ltd. [which] is a division of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group.”

The Atelier, 635 West 42nd Street

The Atelier 

The Atelier is a Midtown Manhattan west condo building which has a 12,000-square-foot fitness center, a sky-lit indoor pool, a sun deck, a Sky Lounge with billiards room, catering kitchen and sun deck, full basketball and volleyball courts, a 100-car garage and 15,700-square feet of ground-floor retail space [source:].

The neighborhood itself is really quite decent if you like the hustle and bustle of New York.  It should be said, however, that this is on the periphery of the Disnified area of Manhattan (i.e. Times Square), and if you’re not into the bright city lights of 42nd Street, you might be better suited elsewhere.   The trek to the subway is a good five minutes if you walk briskly.  The Lincoln Tunnel is a few blocks away, and the building itself is situated right on 42nd Street at 12th Avenue, making it very easy to get away by car.

Built: 2006

421-A Tax Abatement, as of 1/12/2010

Floor Plans:  

One Bedroom

Two Bedroom